"You are like a Hurricane, there is a calm in your eye." Neil Young, "Hurricane"
Ah Neil, that sure was a vivid description you gave in your song "Hurricane". Artists so often use forces of nature as imagery that we sometimes forget the actual magnitude of the events. How they can affect the lives of thousands, if not millions of people. It's not until something of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina shows up that we begin to understand our insignificance in the grand scheme of things.
Reading articles like the one today at "The Globe and Mail's" web site describing the enforced evacuation of the whole of New Orleans serves only to remind us that we can never leave nature out of our calculations. With a great deal of the city below sea level, New Orleans is dependant on a series of levees, canals and pumps to keep it dry at the best of times. But the potential floods caused by a storm of this strength could literally make it uninhabitable. (For a nice overview of the system of levees constructed in the Mississippi basin check out this post at blogcritics.org by Dr.Pat)
If the worse case scenario plays out, scientists predict that the city could be swamped by a nine-metre cesspool of human waste, toxic waste, and even coffins. Those who can't be evacuated, tourists and the poor, are being bussed to last-ditch shelters, including the Superdome.
Look at the satellite picture up at the top of this post. What a nasty red eye glaring at us. For those of us with an anthropomorphic take on things, it's easy to postulate that Old Mother Nature is right pissed with us. That's the type of eye you'd usually associate with a biker who's been running on cheap speed and booze for a week. Not a person to mess with.
Let's face facts for a change. We haven't been the nicest of tenants. We spill shit all over the place and don't clean up after ourselves; we blow huge holes in things; we make noise all day and night without caring about the neighbours; and when we use up one place we just move on to somewhere new, leaving the old place next to uninhabitable. Any landlord worth his salt would have had us evicted long ago.
But Nature has been really forgiving. She even lets us get away with murder on nearly a daily basis. Hardly a day goes by without some species of life being exterminated. We may not have been the direct cause, going out and actively hunting it down, but the way we live is not conducive for encouraging anyone else's continuation.