Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Playing with Mother Nature

I read an article that has me wondering if I should be concerned. According to Tracy Staedtr from DiscoveryNews, people are coming up with ways to snuff out hurricanes before they reach land.

I know that sounds far fetched. My first reaction was "Excuse me? You've got to be kidding." But apparently hurricanes are actually pretty fragile. To quote Staedtr:

"Typhoons [aka hurricanes] gain strength from warmer ocean waters. In fact, the storms need an ocean surface temperature of between 77 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit to develop and 80 degrees F to keep spinning."

The idea is to use a fleet of submarines to shoot cold water to the surface of the ocean, lowering the temperature of the water by just a little, and "snuffing out the typhoon."

So apparently it is possible to stop a hurricane in its path, if you have the right technology. You can read the article here.

The prospect worries me. True, it would have been wonderful to be able to avoid Hurricane Katrina, and it would be amazing to avoid future natural disasters. But...at what price? Mother Nature does not like to be tampered with. And when she is tampered with, she hits back. to illustrate this point, let me tell you a little story about wildfires.

There were places in the United States where forest fires were not allowed to burn for years and years. During that time, things were pretty nice. But then it turned out that forest fires are actually needed to clear away old growth in forests, and some trees (like the great sequoias) actually needed the fires for their seeds to start growing. And through the years of not having any wildfires there was an accumulation on the forest floors of everything that should have been burned away.
All that stuff that should have been burned away turned into some amazing tinder, and eventually it was impossible for fire fighters to prevent forest fires. The results were wild fires that were more dangerous than any on record, because of the tinder that had accumulated.
So not only did the forest suffer from lack of fires, but in the long run so did people.

I don't know what would happen if people started snuffing out hurricanes. But as someone who knows what can happen when you tamper with nature, and as a Pagan who worries about Mother Nature, I'm not so sure that I like the idea of making an "off" switch for hurricanes.

What do you think?

2 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

There always seems to be unintended consequences that are sometimes worse than the original situation. Caution should be employed. Human hubris says we know best but we don't, actually.

Judy said...

People are always playing with Nature, trying to make things 'better'... there's an ecosystem out there which is very well balanced...just because humans feel they are the center of the universe does not make it true...leave things alone...