Mother Nature is Angry


Drawn by Annika Lang

Hannah Browne, Reporter

Conjure up the beautiful image of Beyoncé, months pregnant with her twins, crowned in gold, and clothed in a beautiful gown embellished with crystals and jewels. Breathless with the melody of rebirth, love and healing, feeling her beautiful self, Mother Nature (aka Beyonce) is a comfort to all until her serene face suddenly contorts, changing to anger, and she starts to roar.

Her roar becomes wind, whipping up the ocean, heading straight for land, and blowing down everything in its path, while her tears flood communities with torrential rain. Her feet stomp and send shockwaves through the Earth, creating cracks and crevices, toppling all things high and wide. Perhaps worst yet, so close to our home, her touch ignites the land and burns, leaving nothing but ash.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Mother Nature is angry.

Why is she so mad? Planet Earth is heating up faster than it should. The atmosphere is warmer and it is holding on to more moisture. Large amounts of water vapor in the air are causing strange things to happen, like massive hurricanes with record breaking statistics. The ocean is also warming causing sea levels to rise as ice caps melt.

Mother Nature is blaming the problem on humans. Our exuberance for technology and new inventions to better our own lives since the Industrial Revolution has produced gases that are getting trapped in Earth’s atmosphere and essentially baking us like a tray of brownies in the oven.

By burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas to heat our homes, run our vehicles, provide electricity and power our businesses, excessive amounts of carbon dioxide are being distributed into the atmosphere where it is trapped, warming up the Earth. Since 1990, Earth has experienced the ten warmest years on record.

Some call the phenomenon global warming. Others call it climate change. Mother Nature calls it disaster. And disaster has struck too many times recently.

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast in August, followed by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria obliterating Puerto Rico and many of its Caribbean neighbors in September. Central Mexico trembled in September from a 7.1 earthquake and the largest wildfire in California’s history raged through its northern communities in October.

Mother Nature is using her fury to get our attention. It is like she is saying, “Hey, wake up! Change is needed!” Take hurricanes for example. Everyone expects hurricane season to start in the fall, with meteorologists cheekily naming the hurricanes that roar through the ocean in alphabetical order. However, no one expected the scale and destruction of Harvey, Irma and Maria within the same hurricane season.

With warmer oceans and a warmer atmosphere, the moisture is snatched out of the atmosphere and utilized to unleash storms unlike those ever seen before. Hurricane Irma is the longest lasting, highest speed hurricane in the Atlantic on record. Clocking in at 185 miles per hour, it lasted 17 days. It was followed two weeks later by Hurricane Maria, in the same vicinity as Irma, literally wiping out Puerto Rico.

Even those doubtful about climate change are raising an eyebrow when they look at Hurricane Harvey’s statistics. With parts of Texas receiving 61 inches of rainfall, and the ocean level rising seven feet, Harvey broke all previous recorded records. Harvey’s monetized damage of $190 billion exceeds that of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined. Predictable hurricanes are no longer our normal.

Earthquakes, such as the recent one in Central Mexico, are being discussed within the realm of climate change as well. With underground water tables altered as Earth experiences different weather patterns, the stability of the ground is challenged causing the pressure around fault lines to release as earthquakes. Alaska, in particular, has seen an increase in earthquakes in the last 100 years as melting ice caps are causing the ground to move and shift.

In California, record rainfall this past winter grew brush heavy and tall after a five year drought in which trees were weakened and died off. It set the stage for a wildfire season unlike anything seen before, with parts of Northern California burned to a crisp. California has incurred its ten most destructive wildfires since 1990, and the most recent Tubbs fire is the worst.

With the U.S. Forest Service reporting that each year the fall fire season starts earlier and ends later than historical records, climate change is being blamed for the unusual weather pattern. Fire season lasts 80 days longer today than it did in 1970, a fact that is hard to ignore.

Mother Nature is begging us to recognize we have a problem and make changes quickly. If we continue on this trajectory, global temperatures could rise as much as 10 degrees by 2100 and sea levels could rise as much as 6 feet. The rate of extreme weather events such as catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and fires will increase along with the change in weather patterns.

With a technologically savvy world, the opportunity for change is now. World leaders, including President Trump, need to acknowledge that climate change exists and lead us on a mission to develop solutions. It is not something made up by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. It is not a very expensive tax. It is real.

Plan a world that burns less fossil fuel, and create jobs that invent new technology, instead of reinvesting in old fuel sources such as coal. Recognize that weather patterns have changed, and prepare for the new normal by including the preservation of Earth as well as humans in master development plans.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have made the betterment of human lives the center of attention with countless inventions. Now it is time to focus on the Earth. Mother Nature has spoken. We hear her roar. She demands our attention. It is time she got our respect and help.