- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I have been thinking about the Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting massive ocean wave that wreaked havoc throughout the area, affecting Sri Lanka, Thailand and parts of Indonesia. Deaths are expected to exceed 70,000.

Some would call it an act of God, but a term lawyers use is “force majeure.” Literally, a major or greater force and one understood to be a natural and unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts the expected course of events. It is a clause that excuses a party to a contract from liability.

The Bible is testimony to past catastrophes such as the story of the great flood Noah rode out in his ark or the parting of the Red Sea that let the Hebrews to escape but consumed the pursuing Egyptian army. Scientists point to the extinction of the dinosaurs and comparable events affecting life on Earth.

Others would call it Mother Nature. Whatever name you give it, the earthquake was just one more reminder that, for all the prattling of environmentalists, we humans are just “renting” Earth for our brief sojourn between birth and death, and often Earth shows its utter disregard for our lives and property by perpetrating an earthquake, a flood, a blizzard, a tornado, a hurricane, or a huge forest fire. I often tell people Mother Nature’s message to mankind is “Get out of the way.”

People seem to have short memories for these catastrophic events. And they seem endlessly susceptible to their manipulation such as the immediate suggestion that the giant ocean wave, or tsunami, aftermath is somehow linked to the bogus theory of global warming.

The Earth’s tectonic plates are forever rubbing up against one another. Late last year an earthquake killed 40,000 people in Iran and, within months, it was old news. This latest manifestation of Earth’s indifference to our wish to sun ourselves on exotic beaches or just not have our home cave in on us will be forgotten too. Until the next time. And there will be a next time.

All this leads me to suggest that we need to be humbler in our approach to Mother Nature and less inclined to listen to every claim something horrible will happen. The simple truth is something horrible will happen. Typically, we don’t know where or when. Your local weatherman has, at best, a vague notion of what the weather will be four days from now.

And there isn’t a damned thing we can do about it. Except, if possible, to get out of the way. That’s what many folks in Florida tried to do earlier this year when they were told a big hurricane was going to hit them. And then another one hit them. And another one. And another one.

Stay or leave. A force majeure does not care. Mother Nature does not care. The lesson is — always eat dessert.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs,” posted on the Internet Site of the National Anxiety Center (www.anxietycenter.com).

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