Sixteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of Louisiana, as well as parts of Mississippi and Alabama. When it made landfall, Katrina was a strong category 3 storm, strong enough to claim nearly 2,000 lives and break the protective walls preventing Lake Pontchartrain from submerging much of New Orleans.
In the wake of the storm, meteorologists and other pundits explained that Katrina was a “100-year hurricane.” Last Sunday, 16 years after Katrina made landfall, to the day, Hurricane Ida made landfall in almost the same spot. Again, the city of New Orleans and much of Louisiana were struck, but with far greater ferocity than even the 100-year storm.
I think that the first, and most important lesson to be learned from Katrina’s misleading moniker, is that time is accelerating, and the remote, foreboding predictions are already happening. We simply don’t have decades to plan ahead for the next catastrophe; we must act now.
There have always been fires, and there have always been hurricanes in America, just as there have always been tsunamis in Asia. Geographically, this is how the world is built.
However, the ferocity and frequency of the events are unprecedented, and people will not be able to live in areas affected by such intense and recurring disasters. Since the areas affected by natural disasters are growing with each year, and since the recurrence of “100-year” storms is growing, we must think boldly and act resolutely in order to stop the approaching cataclysm.
Indeed, the answer is not in science; it is in us. First, we must admit that we are the cause of the disasters plaguing us. Science has already acknowledged that human behavior toward nature is detrimental to nature, and therefore to us. Yet, this observation has changed nothing since we haven’t been able to change our behavior. To change it, we must transform what prompts us to behave as we do—our own nature.
The more interdependent the world is becoming, the more difficult it is becoming to stand out and race to the top without “taking a beating” from nature. At the same time, it is human nature to want to stand out, to be on the top of the world. Therefore, the only solution is to learn to see other achievements than the current, self-centered ones, as the realization of our potential.
The world has plenty of everything we need in order to thrive. The problem is that we are not dispensing the abundance considerately, and we are overconsuming what we have. We throw away the surplus, polluting the planet, while starving others and denying them supplies because we are reluctant to help them and enjoy seeing others suffer.
This behavior has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels or polluting drinking water. These problems stem only from malice, and this is the prime cause of suffering in our world. Therefore, changing our ill-will, namely human nature, must be our top priority.
We cannot do this by force. We have already tried to revolutionize society in every possible way, from the extreme left to the far right, and what happened? We got bloodshed and misery all around. If we want people to have good lives, we must educate ourselves and all of society into realizing that we are all connected and dependent on each other, and that our happiness depends on the happiness of everyone else.
The disasters, both natural and manmade, will catapult us toward each other. The only way to come closer pleasantly is by doing so consciously.
Since the only negative element in nature is our attitude to one another, reversing the negativity will solve all other problems. This is what scientists cannot see—that our wicked nature ruins our human relations, which in turn ruins all of nature, reflected in the cataclysmic adversities that have been plaguing us. Unless we break this chain, the chain will break us. We don’t have many more summers to make the critical changes and take upon ourselves to transform not only human behavior, but first and foremost, human nature.
Damage from Hurricane Ida is seen at Grand Isle, La., on Tuesday August 31, 2021, after Ida came ashore there on Sunday August 29, 2021.