We talk a lot in this column about protecting the environment, about treading lightly on the Earth. This sometimes promotes a view of Mother Nature as a delicate, frail old lady who needs our constant care.
While this is true, we must not forget that the old dame still has some kick to her. We got some first-hand proof of the awesome power of nature this week.
This was not some epic event like a tornado or hurricane, just a simple summer thunderstorm.
This storm dumped 11 centimetres of rain onto our town in a couple of hours, flooding streets, basements and closing two major highways. People had to scramble out of their cars and seek higher ground. Major appliances in people’s basements were moved to different rooms by the force of the water.
One sad thing was the impact of the massive volume of water on a local pond.
This pond was a beautiful place, home to many birds and fish. The flash flood washed out the debris dam at the foot of the pond and caused three-quarters of the water to drain out.
This pond contained huge snapping turtles thought to be about 80 years old. We hope they were able to resist being swept away but we fear they were not.
The scar caused by the water rushing out of the pond looks like something carved out by a major river or waterfall, not our usually stagnant pond.
What happened to the pond is a reminder not to take anything for granted. Nothing is forever.
The beauty of the pond was a gift of nature, a privilege for those who got to enjoy it. It emphasizes to us that we are just guests here on Earth. Beings who have existed for just a blip in terms of geological time.
We think we humans are all-powerful and indeed we do have the power to do terrible things to our planet. But all we have built, all our machines and buildings can be wiped out by a storm, a volcano, an earthquake, the power of nature.
The Earth will be here long after we humans have become extinct, either through our own doing or from natural causes. Protecting the environment is not for the Earth, it is for us, so that we can live happy, healthy lives during our sojourn here.
– Sophia Dore is an environmental scientist with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Andrew Laursen is an assistant professor at Ryerson University; firstname.lastname@example.org.