R SCOTT WRIGHT
"The two elements, the natural and the manmade,
seem locked in a whirling embrace with the outcome uncertain..."
Stanley I Grand
Storms of Creation
Storms are central themes in most world creation myths as they try to explain how chaos transmuted into order. Fire and lightning, windstorms, floods, and shifting landscapes, are prominent scenarios in these myths. Science also tells us of a “big bang”, an immense explosion from a perfect singularity that started the workings of the universe in motion. Some
cosmologists even believe that the storm like initiation of our universe is an event that is repeated over and over with no beginning and no end. While storms are most often seen as cataclysmic events they can also be perceived as a life-spark in generating a new beginning.
In nature there are many examples of how storms also create.
We are here in part due to a large meteor that struck the Earth 66 million years ago and created the Chicxulub crater off the coast of Mexico. The surface of the planet was scorched in a firestorm that almost instantly finished off the dinosaurs, but allowed mammals a foothold on which to flourish.
In 1980 Mt St Helens erupted (on my birthday) in the Pacific North West with a pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock that reached 80 thousand feet in elevation and flattened hundreds of square miles of old growth forest. Within a few years after the epic eruption Prairie Lupines were among the first plants to establish a foothold in the ashy barren landscape. These nitrogen rich islands of life attracted birds and other wildlife and caught seeds from other plant species blown in on the wind. Certain trees like redwoods and pines have serotinous (tight, sappy, late blooming) cones that melt open during forest fires thereby seeding the landscape for a fresh start.
Atmospheric scientists concur that lightning strikes the earth more than 8 million times per day and this number does not even include cloud-to-cloud lightning. As lightning discharges within clouds water vapor seeded with nitrogen falls to the ground as a natural fertilizer. These are just a few of the many examples of how nature’s storms help to expand the diversity of life.
While storms are part of the natural cycle of life, some storms can be considered self-inflicted. The climate of Earth is rapidly changing due to human overuse of fossil fuels as they are burned and their carbon, which was once stored underground, is re-released into the atmosphere surrounding our planet. This activity has caused changing weather patterns, melting ice caps, altered sea currents, fires, droughts, and floods. Some species will ultimately adapt to this new world of chaotic weather patterns while others like ours will have trouble. The great irony is that we have a choice in this matter.