Once again, Mother Nature gets the blame, while tycoons whistle “Dixie”
“Return your sword to its place,
for all who will take up the sword
will die by the sword.”
Jesus of Nazareth, The Gospel of Matthew (26:52)
For some in the oil industry, it must tug at the conscience: “Boy, the bank account is fat, but the beautiful state of California burns. Plus, all the other climate-related disasters… My gains are ill-gotten…”
But between those layers of truth lie ancient stone strata formed by tremendous American noise. “California is burning…” “global warming is mostly to blame…” “fossil fuel combustion is mostly to blame for global warming.” Do the captains of industry ever make those connections? But the poetic irony is clear. We’ve burned fossil fuels for almost 300 years, and we’re seeing the consequences of that now: burning Earth. And we continue to live by the petroleum sword… overplaying our hand… overstaying our welcome in the coal caves and petroleum pits, call it what you will.
Here in rural Marion County, Florida, you see a good bit of deer hunting in season and, a couple of years back, some part-time hunters left a 20-foot-tall deer stand just off my property. I’m not much of a hunter but, deeming it a sound-enough structure, I scurry on up there from time to time, my binoculars hanging around my neck. Just after dawn, the thermometer I nailed to a column on the wooden porch says 30 degrees Fahrenheit, coldest day of the year.
Undeterred, I set out for the deer stand, hoping to get an angle on the environs from above the low frigid fog on the plain. In any case, climbing the ladder to the platform provides a pleasant cardiovascular boost. It’s never the same view twice from up on my perch. The land, the trees, the animals, the sky, the shadows are always changing, if you look close enough.
About a mile out, the mist lingered in patches, and a couple of tree lines in minced collages of amber, burgundy, and cocoa peered through intermittently. But the fog grew thicker and taller, and soon visibility was at zero. I set my binoculars on the deck and sat back against a railing. Closed my eyes against the gray all around. Deep breaths steadied me briefly. I’d descend the ladder in a minute. My efforts to see all manner of things from up there were for naught, at least for now, and I didn’t like the helpless feeling of it.
I shivered from deep within. Wasn’t sure if it was a reaction to the cold or to the bleakness of an entire world appearing to have—from one minute to the next—gone up in smoke.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the natural consequences of human hubris. The apparent wins of the avaricious are always short-lived in the long run. The original system of checks and balances is none other than Mother Nature herself.