Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, an earthquake shook Mexico, monsoon floods battered Bangladesh and deadly mudslides buried people in Colombia. Nature often strikes us without warning and leaves us in shambles. Its wrath spares none. History is rife with examples of calamities that have even wiped entire civilisations off the face of the earth.
“Destruction, hence, like creation, is one of nature’s mandates,” French philosopher Marquis de Sade writes in his book Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. It is the way of nature. As there is creation, there is also destruction. And every destruction comes with a silver lining of creation.
For instance, what if we told you that the great Deccan Plateau was formed by a volcanic eruption nearly 2,000 years ago? In fact, it is one of the largest volcanic features on earth. Astonishing, isn’t it? Such is the beauty of nature. It is nurturing even at its worst. Soulveda explores the other side of natural disasters to understand how destructive endings could lead to positive beginnings.
Water is fundamental to humankind’s survival. That is perhaps why man is known to have settled down on river banks after which civilisations were formed. The fertile soil enabled agriculture and sustained various life forms. Soon, river valleys became the epicentres of civilisations. For instance, the Indus valley civilisation was built on the banks of River Indus. However, it is sad that the civilisation’s disappearance was also due to that same river. Historians believe one of the reasons for the downfall of the civilisation was a major flood in the region.
Floods have been one of the biggest forces of destruction in the history of mankind. However, despite the loss they bring about, floods are also known to contribute to the fertility of a region. When rivers overflow into the plains, there is a mutual exchange of organic matter between land and water. This makes the river banks fertile. Once the water recedes, the soil of the region is rejuvenated and refreshed. While floods take lives and destroy property, they also nurture new life.
Volcanic eruptions are credited for the creation of 80 per cent of mountains, plateaus, soil and rocks on earth.
Fire and ash burst out of the mountain top. The red hot lava flows downhill, burning everything in its path. Black smoke then engulfs the blue sky. It may be a rare sight for some, but volcanic eruptions are common for people residing along the Pacific Ring of Fire–an arc in the Pacific Ocean, where most of the volcanoes are formed. Along the 40,000 km-long area, there are 452 volcanoes. While many of them are dormant, there are still several that are active and most certainly deadly. They are capable of destroying entire cities. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, for example, is known to have destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The city was buried under ashes for the next 1,500 years.
But nature is a strange thing. While it eliminates a lot, it paves way for something new. Volcanic eruptions are credited for the creation of 80 per cent of mountains, plateaus, soil and rocks on earth. And that is not all. Studies even suggest that volcanic lava is rich in minerals that increase soil fertility.
Earthquakes are rather synonymous with death and loss. When one of them strikes, all one can do is pray to survive. But this catastrophe has something positive to offer. When there is an earthquake, there is a shift in earth’s tectonic plates. As a result, rock and mud on the earth’s surface get sucked in and mineral deposits and fossil fuels deep under the surface of the earth get pushed out. This way, the planet is known to recycle itself–by pulling in the old and pushing out the new. Earthquakes, thus, make it easier for man to mine fossil fuels like petroleum and natural gas.
Hurricane Irma claimed the lives of over a hundred people in the United States and the Caribbean in 2017. Rains accompanied by cyclonic winds ripped houses apart and even uprooted trees in the region. Needless to say, it was quite a tragedy. While the destruction can never be justified, there is something good that comes from such a catastrophe.
Once the roaring hurricane moves past the coast and into the land, it slows down and brings rain to regions that are dry and arid. Besides, the strong winds from hurricanes help distribute fertile topsoil across farm lands. This facilitates better agriculture.
Hurricanes also help maintain the tropical heat balance. They help move tropical air from the equator to the poles. Perhaps, in the absence of these tropical cyclones, the equator would be much hotter and poles colder, probably even making life impossible in these regions.