Thursday, September 26, 2013

Earth, Water, Air and Fire

After the flood destruction here in Colorado this month, I’ve been thinking about natural disasters. Ancients spoke of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. My wife made a good observation the other day that I hadn’t consciously recognized before. These four elements also account for our natural disasters. It’s ironic that contracts often refer to “Act’s of God.” To me, disasters have nothing to do with God unless you hold with a vengeful Old Testament type of God who likes to punish people. Let’s take a look at the four elements.

Earth. An earthquake shook Pakistan this week and killed many people. If you live in California, this is always a possibility as well. I grew up in Hawaii where volcanic eruptions (a combination of earth and fire) occurred frequently.
Water. In drought, we seek it, in flood we want it to stop. There are also tsunamis, a combination of earth (earthquakes) and a resulting massive pulse of water. We’ve recently experienced a 100 year flood here in Colorado. After several years of drought, we broke all records for a day, month and year with one week of too much rain. The power of water carved the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen pictures of roads obliterated in canyons in the Colorado mountains in the recent flooding and witnessed the flood erosion on nearby hiking trails.

Air. Ah, those storms. Wind, tornados, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, Chinook, Santa Ana whatever you choose to call them can wreck devastation. And some of them produce ocean surges and the accompanying rainfall, leading to flooding. Blizzards combine air and water as do hail storms. Dust storms (simoom, haboob) combine earth and air.

Fire. We have had too many wildfires in Colorado the last few years. These have caused damage to thousands of acres of forest and the houses built in these areas, and taken lives. A number of the wildfires were caused by lightning.
Thus, the elements that provide for our existence (earth, water, air and fire) also bring the risk of natural disasters. It’s just the way our world works.

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