In January 2011, Time magazine wrote "A recent government study warned that because of climate change, in the next century, a 1-in-100-year-event -- like this year's floods -- could occur several times a year."
On March 11th 2011, when we all woke up to our seemingly normal lives, Japan was hit by the worst natural disaster yet. The videos were…unreal. Watching the earthquake, and the flood that covered vast amounts of land in seconds, sent shivers down my spine. People were fighting for their lives, fighting for an uncertain future where all of their belongings had been mercilessly taken from them. Nature once again showed us who is in charge, and the rest of the world sat in front of their computers, TVs, radios watching…and waiting. "Pray for Japan", we told each other, as the death tolls increased.
Few days ago Thailand was hit by a 7.0 magnitude quake. Few months ago Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia were all affected by floods. Once again we found ourselves in the same, disturbingly familiar, situation; nature, to some also called climate change, showed it's devastating power. How is it that these events are occurring so frequently? I believe it's the consequences we pay based on previous decisions.
Still, natural disasters have taken place in the past, and affected countries - Japan being one of them, having suffered from several earthquakes (Great Kano in 1923, Kobe in 1995) and the Great Wave (19th century tsunami) - have managed to pull themselves together and recreate their society. But, this time around the natural disasters affected one of their nuclear plants, and this is where and when we have to start reflecting on what we are doing - and more importantly how much power can we control.
Japan is still struggling with cooling down the nuclear reactors of Fukushima, which as a result of the quake and tsunami are overheating. Normally the reactors are supposed to shut down during earthquakes, which they did, but when the tsunami hit severe damages were done to the internal structure of the reactors. Now, this is one country struggling with one natural disaster (but in our globalized world everyone is affected); imagine if several countries were struggling at the same time. That's a not-so-unlikely situation we need to prepare for. Why? Because natural disasters/climate change/global warming is occurring because of us, whether we want to accept it or not.
I believe humans have always seen themselves as superior to nature, as if we were above nature and not part of it. We feed on the mentality that we can control, manipulate and soon create anything available on this planet (who knows - even space?!). It's a very toxic way of thinking, and is one of the reasons why we strive towards using nuclear power, and "safely" preserve the dangerous elements underground. "Death by radiation has always been humanity's great self-inflicted wound. Nature may have cooked up the unstable elements that contain and emit radioactive energy, but it also took care to hide the stuff away - burying it in mountains, sealing it in planetary cores." was what Jeffrey Kluger wrote on the nuclear power situation in Japan for Time. Once again, "above nature", see where I'm going?
Our never-ending search for more power, more efficiency, more this, more that and…more everything (!) will be the ultimate cause of our own destruction. In our search we ignore rational thinking and instead of viewing things in a longer, more sustainable, perspective we insist on pursuing the destructive path we are on. I'm sure a lot of governments are mourning what's happening at Fukushima. They might even self-reflect, but will they change?
We, humans, need to realize that we are in this together - no matter how big of a cliché it is. Learn from the past, don't take the present for granted and prepare for the future. Because honestly, for how long can we continue like this?