Friday, September 25, 2009

How Can the Weather NOT Affect Trade?

The Ancient Greeks told the story of Icarus, a young man whose father, Daedalus, made them both wings made out of feathers and wax so they could escape their exile on the island of Crete. As they set out to fly away, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun or the sea. Sadly, as we all well know, Icarus had so much fun flying high that he ignored his father's warning and flew so close to the sun that its heat melted the wax in his wings and the feathers came off and he fell and died.

This is probably one of the most accurate, concise summaries of mankind's history than you could ever ask for. Man has long thought that he was smart enough to overcome the forces of nature, that he had brains, tools, and technology on his side and was therefore the smartest, most powerful force on this planet. Time and time again, he has been proved wrong. Who here remembers a little thunderstorm called Katrina?

We've all seen the movie Titanic, and no doubt remember how dramatically director James Cameron emphasized the selfish J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the steamship company, and how he ordered Captain Edward John Smith to turn on all the engines so he could show off how fast his fancy new ship could go when they made a new world record by arriving in New York ahead of schedule: and how the captain said this wasn't a good idea because they were in a part of the ocean that was FULL OF ICEBERGS making it a VERY BAD IDEA TO GO FAST. We all know how that turned out.

And of course, we have plowed forward and become the global society that we are today by laughing in the face of Nature's dangers. Would we even be here on America if our ancestors had not seen fit to brave the dangers of a sea voyage in search of a better life on another continent? But for all those that made it to America, an equal number died on the trip and never got to see the sunny beaches of New Jersey.

I wrecked my first car because I was driving in a snowstorm. The weatherman told me conditions were icy and dangerous and to be careful driving, and my mom begged me not to drive to this party at my friend's house in the mountains because of the icy mountain roads, but I laughed at her, the weatherman, and Nature, assuring them all I would surely be fine. I had technology, or, a '97 Buick LeSabre (don't hate! I inherited it from my grandma and it ran smoooth as butter. until I wrecked it.) Sure enough, there I was going 45 mph around a curve at the foot of the mountain while trying to change the radio station, and I hit a patch of ice and slid smack into a telephone pole. Totalled. Mother Nature: 1, Me: 0.

There's a famous TV commercial that shows coal factories spewing smoke and a polluted river full of trash and then a close-up of the face of a noble-looking Native American shedding a single noble-looking tear for how badly we palefaces ruined their sacred land. The truth of the matter is, the Native Americans fucked the land up as much as they could before we even got here with their crazy corn crops and teepee building and whatnot.* Without tearing Nature apart for food and shelter and fuel, we'd probably be dead. I mean face, it, we are on the top of the food chain.

*also the actor playing the Native American was actually Italian.

Still, it seems like a happy medium is something we could all shoot for. It can't be denied that we need to tear this planet apart for fossil fuels and trees and soil and crops, and that we needed to cross oceans to find better fossil fuels and trees and and soil and crops (find, buy, or steal from the natives, that is). But with each new jump forward in technological advances in the history of human-kind, it seems like we get that much more careless about noticing what the weather report is like, and how dangerous a thunderstorm can actually be. Maybe a little humility and respect for this planet that gave birth to us in the first protein strings and amino acids that formed in the tidal pools at the Dawn of Time. Maybe check the weather report, and bring an umbrella if they say it might rain. Just sayin'.

Katie Dempsey


  1. Great post, it's good to hear something a little more original and accessible. I thought that your more pragmatic view on the situation of environment was very interesting. It’s true that we’ll never get the environment back to the way it was, or to even stop or drastically slow down something like global warming. Truth is, the earth just isn’t something that we can “leave the way we found it”. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to make things better, if not just a little bit. Maybe before destroying or permanently altering an ecosystem, we can think and try to behave like humans for once, and I don’t mean the humans that caused these problems in the first place.

  2. This was a very refreshing post, thank you! I totally agree with what you said, too, I definitely had similar thoughts on the matter. It doesn't matter how many preparations you make or how many precautions you take, your plans must take weather changes into account.