not in our stars, but in ourselves
If you want a real-life horror story, please read this indelibly frightening article in The New Yorker about the imminent (within the next fifty years, scientists predict) earthquake/tsunami combination that will devastate the Pacific Northwest. I have never read anything that scared me more. Consider:
To see the full scale of the devastation when that tsunami recedes, you would need to be in the international space station. The inundation zone will be scoured of structures from California to Canada. The earthquake will have wrought its worst havoc west of the Cascades but caused damage as far away as Sacramento, California—as distant from the worst-hit areas as Fort Wayne, Indiana, is from New York. FEMA expects to coördinate search-and-rescue operations across a hundred thousand square miles and in the waters off four hundred and fifty-three miles of coastline. As for casualties: the figures I cited earlier—twenty-seven thousand injured, almost thirteen thousand dead—are based on the agency’s official planning scenario, which has the earthquake striking at 9:41 A.M. on February 6th. If, instead, it strikes in the summer, when the beaches are full, those numbers could be off by a horrifying margin.
Japan suffered immensely in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami in March 2011, but Japan has always taken extreme earthquake safety and alert measures, and has almost certainly worked to improve those measures since. We have not. For one thing, we didn’t even realize that the Pacific Northwest was in a likely hot spot for quake activity, not until quite recently. For another thing, due to typical American shortsightedness and hubris, we’ve ignored the desperate warnings from seismologists, and neglected to install any kind of alert/safety system anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
I hope the science is wrong. I hope “the big one” (or worse, “the very big one”) never hits. But I fear that it will, sooner than anyone can imagine, and I can only wish for everyone I know out west to decide to move inland (or, you know, all the way to the East Coast, which is the best part of the U.S. anyway) ASAP.
Seismic events proceed on their own timeline, so our manifest destiny was doomed by plate tectonics before we even understood the concept. But it’s this pending disaster, combined with the many and varied “extreme weather events” around the world, and with the undeniable science that accuses us humans of bringing about massive climate change, I can’t help feeling that Mother Nature is pretty furious. This is a facile comparison, but it’s all I can think of: in the tradition of I Spit on Your Grave, we’re entering the revenge portion of our rape-revenge story. I’m worried, and I don’t know what to do about it.