A few days ago I visited Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy. In the fall of the year 79 CE, the mountain exploded. The explosion was so violent that it shot a cloud of fragmented rock and gasses to a height of 33 km (21 miles), released pulverized volcanic glass (pumice) and hot ash at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second, and unleashed a torrent of liquid rock and gas that flowed down the mountain at a speed greater than a Category 1 hurricane. To this day, such events are referred to as “Vesuvian eruptions.” That outburst buried the lavish Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and to this day the tragedy symbolizes nature’s wrath at man’s decadence.
Volcanic eruptions are nature’s way of restoring balance. Just as viruses trigger “eruptions” of pandemics today, so this colossal explosion served the same function then.
All of reality evolves in such a way that to shift from one state to another, it must reach a certain threshold and then erupt. Planet Earth and the entire universe evolve in this way.
At the same time, natural disasters are not mandatory, certainly not at such levels of destructiveness. Because humans exert a negative influence on nature, we tilt it off balance, tremendously increasing the severity of volcanic eruptions and other cataclysms. If we understood the extent of our influence on nature, we would see that there is a lot we can do to calm it down.
Since nature is in balance, anything that is unbalanced in it has a negative effect on it. In all of nature, humankind is the only part that is corrupt and distorted. We inject nature with swarms of selfishness and almost no good will. We contribute nothing to the prosperity of other plant and animal species, and deplete, pollute, and corrupt everything we touch.
Clearly, such a severe imbalance requires intense rebalancing. This is what we experience as “natural disasters,” whose viciousness and deadliness are “man-made.”