It’s a peculiar thing, weather. It is quite possibly the greatest dictator of our known universe. Think about the power and control it has over nearly every aspect of life on this planet as we know it. From shaping the many landscapes spread across Earth, to its ability to influence human behavior. Some of us are more aware of weather than others, and all of us are at its mercy. Weather has fascinated me since I was a child. The enormity of it, and the energy it carries is the reason I made the decision to study weather through undergrad and graduate school. I see weather not just in its physical form, but weather as a spiritual form. It is Nature in its most grandeur. It is the authoritarian of our Natural World. Weather not only shapes our one and only planet, it serves to show us our strengths as human beings, as well as our weaknesses. Weather shows us where we’ve come from, and the direction we’re headed.
Hurricane Florence exemplified the physical and spiritual form which weather can embody. Another means for Nature to speak to us, the spiritual side of weather events like Hurricane Florence serve to show each of us who we are as a species on a planet among many.
Florence exposed just how close we are to an environmental disaster as it flooded inland coal ash ponds and hog waste lagoons. Florence demonstrated the social inequalities and desperate situation our society as a whole has created between race and class as children and adults looted a dollar general. Florence revealed the prevalent and ever increasing false side of journalism and media sources as a reporter braced against the wind perpetrating a violent wind as teenagers casually walked by in the background. Florence proved how disconnected we are from our environment as a leader showed more concern for personal image during a major weather event than for victims of flooding. Florence showed that within many of us, there is a desire for compassion as people across the state of North Carolina reached out to help those in need.
A common philosophy unique to The Marsh is that Nature exists for us to learn from. The answers we’re seeking reside everywhere in Nature, and they are revealed to us in many ways. One only needs to brief the history of science to acknowledge how the natural world has disclosed many of life’s secrets and solutions to problems our civilization is seeking, as well as the many solutions it’s not seeking. Be it a grain of sand or a barrier island, a lone tree in the middle of a field or thousands of acres of old growth forest, a solo egret among brackish pools in a marsh or thousands of migrating barn swallows, a brief passing shower or a hurricane spanning hundreds of miles across a vast ocean, our one and only Earth is trying to work with us. Speaking to us through an abnormally changing climate and the weather patterns associated with a changing planet, it’s time for us to wake up and begin working with the natural order of things, and correct what we’ve manipulated.
Florence was just one storm, but the messages it conveyed would serve our civilization well for a lifetime if heeded in the way Nature intended. There have been countless other weather events in history. The Superstorm of 93, regarded as one of the worst storms of the 20th century. Hurricane Katrina in 2005, understood to be the costliest in history and one of the five deadliest Hurricane’s on record. Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which showed off her intensity at 889 millibars of pressure. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which went down in the books as the deadliest U.S. hurricane. Each serving its purpose to not just transport energy from one part of the globe to another in the form of weather systems, but to serve as reminders that our species among all others on Earth has the ability to make this place a better place to live, or to continue about our habitual ways as the water slowly rises. We are at a crossroads in the middle of time. It is time we start being serious about what this planet is telling us, and begin working toward balance, or weather, Nature’s authoritarian, will continue to balance out the imbalance.