Monday, November 15, 2010

When The Earth is Unhappy

We do not own the Earth.

You can say that we are merely tenants on this planet. No one is certain when we began our occupation but we do know that the number of occupants have swollen tremendously since then. 

In 1800, the world's population reached one billion. Today, we are pushing near seven. At this rate, we probably see the eighth billion in 2025 and the ninth, 10 years after that.

From time to time, planet Earth gets upset and many people vanish.

In 1400, the Black Death reduced the world's population from about 450 million to about 350-375 million. In more recent years, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives. In Jan this year, 230,000 people died in the Haiti earthquake.

A Crouching Man, Pompeii [Pic]
A couple of days ago, I went to the 'Pompeii, Life in a Roman Town 79 CE' Exhibition held at the National Museum of Singapore. I walked through briefly how Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 Aug 79CE and put the ancient city of Pompeii a few meters below solidified ashes. It was left intact and discovered only 1500 years later.

Many people died in the most agonized way, killed by hot ashes, toxic gases, collapsed buildings and tsunami. Pompeii disappeared from the surface of the Earth in a short span of two days. Archaeologists found more than 1000 victims but no one knows for sure how many lives were taken.

Mount Merapi [Source]
Life is fragile.

Today, our modern medicinal sciences have given many more years in average life span. However, we can do very little to fight the force of nature. As I am writing this, Mount Merapi is spewing in the nearby Java Island. It has been angry since 25 Oct and has already killed more than 200 people. It does not look like it is stopping there.

Further away in the Philippines, another volcano, Mount Bulusan, is issuing some stern warnings. Experts believe that it may not hold its temper for long.

We do not know what natural disaster is coming up next and we cannot do much to negotiate with mother Earth. However, when it comes to being a responsible Earth occupant, we can do a lot more. If all the seven billion people could be gentler to the Earth, this blue marble can certainly be happier.

See photos taken from the 'Pompeii, Life in a Roman Town 79 CE' Exhibition.

"The earth is what we all have in common." ~Wendell Barry~

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