Nature’s second nature

Nature is beautiful, bountiful, blissful and benevolent. But it also often defies its own nature, and turns brutal and beastly. Gaja is the latest reminder that behind Mother nature’s picture perfect facade lurks a potential monster with multiple faces.

Really, the situation up above and all around us is pretty serious. I mean, it is not pretty but rather serious. Climate’s erratic, rather, eccentric, behaviour, blowing hot and blowing cold at will, is now an undisputed fact. Raging forest fires, unusually hot summers, landslips and quakes, unseasonal rains, gusty winds, flash floods and inundations: really nature’s ugly signature is writ everywhere, may be in different names: Nisha, Thane, Nilam, Vardah, Ockhi, etc., just in TN. Different names in rest of India and the world at large.

The general consensus in the scientific community is that we have collectively and consistently ignored nature’s warnings and are now paying with global warming. But with humans, stuck on a suicidal spiral of ‘feed, need and greed’, consensus does not automatically lead to correction. Post-industrial revolution, the rampant use of fossil fuels to spur ‘development’ caused huge emissions of greenhouse gases that heat up the atmosphere and cause climate change. So it would appear that natural disasters are actually man-made!

But, there are an equal number of skeptics armed with equally convincing data who debunk the industrial revolution theory and claim that climate has been changing, often drastically, all through evolution. To them, the ‘global warming, climate change charade’ is yet another business ploy to peddle costly, ‘clean & green’ technologies to a guilty, gullible populace!

But the latter are losing the argument, not least because the proponents of climate change are convincing. For, polemics apart, global warming or not, we can feel the heat rising in our bones adequately enough to give us the chill. And as plainly obvious is also the fact that every one of us, thanks to our lifestyles, is leaving a larger carbon footprint today than we did yesterday. On a collective and continuous count, that makes for a truly catastrophic stampede on tender nature.

The reigning theory on interconnectivity of atmospheric activities across distant geographical regions is interesting. Climate experts now believe that the fury of forest fires in one place and floods elsewhere actually stem from the same source. Let me present some expert quote to make that wisdom clear though I have not understood it myself. ‘These disasters though different and varying in distances could have been both the result of a large area of high pressure, known as blocking high, centred over a particular region. Such pressure true to its name alters the jet stream, a corridor of fast moving air at high altitudes. The altered jet stream which is like a highway for the movement of storms can therefore influence weather patterns through great distances’. Got it? Blessed really you are. But remember, the next time we light an LPG stove in Chennai, we might be causing or contributing to a sudden cloud burst in distant California.

Indeed, heat waves and heavy rains are likely to co-exist or alternate without notice as never before. Climate scientists conclude that ‘this is what one should expect in a warming world’ which needless to say, is our own making! But then trust nature to tip and trip and play truant with all such human brainwaves. The more you fathom, the more you realise its mysteries are inscrutable.

Not just the vagaries of the weather, but nature hides all its sinister secrets quite safely. The red alerts on October rains fizzled without a drizzle, just leaving school students in showers of joy thanks to unexpected leave. Ironically, when weather warnings do materialise, we are caught unawares, hoping nature was just playing! Remember the Tsunami monster that concealed itself from human eyes so well and revealed its size and unravelled its ferocity only on hitting the shores? Even now, scientists are only groping in generalities and learned guesses.

Hot headed humans have made nature lose its cool in every possible way. Small wonder a vengeful nature has marked out everyone under the sky. Indeed, it looks mankind is the biggest natural disaster ever!

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Jawahar T R