Nature strikes when it suffers
Each life on this Earth has a closely intertwined history with that of nature. The world of which we are a member is a dynamic, continuously changing natural system. Throughout human history, natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanoes, etc. have been recurring.
Our predecessors were well aware of this fact, as many of our ancient civilizations were destroyed by powerful forces of nature. This explains the advent of many ancient religious traditions that personified nature's powers as gods and goddesses, and elaborate ceremonies to please these mighty powers.
Man has untangled a very tiny portion of the mystery of nature in the course of his life, but believes in the notion of subjugating nature by means of superior intellect and technical capabilities. Science and Technology have reinforced the conviction that we are prepared enough to prevail over the destructive forces of nature. During the era of the Industrial Revolution that offered a perceived sense of control over nature, the advancements made by the humans grew leaps and bounds. During this period, the planet witnessed unprecedented damage due to a wide range of anthropogenic activities.
This narrative, however, portrays the Earth's picture as a victim of human greed and ignores the argument that the earth, on its part, is a strong actor in its own right and avenger, rather than merely an impotent victim. Modern man does not perceive himself as a part of Nature but as a well-equipped outside force to control it. When the rules of the game are modified by Nature, Nature has its own strong arsenal of weapons to take revenge on such supremacy. Its arsenal is brimmed with extreme weather events such as droughts, floods , hurricanes, wildfires, etc. It also wields biological weapons in the form of zoonoses such as influenza, Ebola, SARS, and very recently as COVID-19.
Many recent events attest to the claim that it hits back, as nature struggles. Floods in Chennai (2015), Uttarakhand (2013), Mumbai (2005) – all remind us that any evolution that comes at the expense of nature is a perfect disaster recipe. When the river's natural course is disturbed it furiously rages.
It shows the floods have caused damage. Cyclones and Hurricanes have caused more damage in different parts of the world than ever before. Near the faults of the earthquake many of the world's nuclear plants are ominously situated. These actions are a gross violation of Nature's boundaries of tolerance.
A crucial aspect of global warming is illustrated by the more recent case of a high magnitude of insect attack in India in the form of locust. These attacks of locusts are harmful to agriculture and food security, and once again it demonstrates how climate change and agriculture are inextricably related. With every harm caused, nature tends to retaliate with even more intensity and vigour.
These retaliations work very much like the mechanism of defense of our body. If a virulent microorganism enters the body, the immune system trains itself to exterminate the invading germs. It is not an act of consciousness but a natural life-saving mechanism to restore vital equilibrium.
But it is unlikely that what Nature is doing to defend itself would prove beneficial to human society. If the planet warms up and glaciers melt, the sea level will rise, inundate coastal cities, destroy crops and flood low-lying croplands. Droughts have become chronic, with food supplies declining to hundreds of millions. Humanity is supposed to be hungry during the process and suffer from illnesses.
The more carbon-dioxide we pour into the atmosphere, the more the natural properties of Earth, including seas, forests and glaciers, are modified. They are all part of the fundamental structure of the earth and will therefore cause protective feedback mechanisms such as rising temperatures and changing patterns of rainfall among others.
We are no longer living on a helpless, impotent, taken-for-granted planet that cannot protect itself from human transgression. We now occupy a modern environment that has radically altered by human interference and if the threshold boundaries of nature are not handled with due regard, we will learn to our dismay of the incredible powers that nature has at its fingertips.