On Monday, 22 March 2010, Perth was hit by a powerful supercell storm accompanied by a prodigious amount of hail. In half an hour, houses, businesses and cars sustained extensive damage, and the insurance bill was more than 600 million dollars. The storm was a rarity in Perth, however, in America, such storms are commonplace. The stone in the photo that was 10cm in diameter was from one such storm in Oklahoma. Can you imagine being hit by that piece of hail?
Fast forward now to 2015. Mount Ruang, a volcano in Indonesia, has been spewing out volcanic ash into the atmosphere resulting in the cancellation of many flights to and from Bali and in the process ruining many holidays.
These events demonstrate that while we think we can control many aspects of our environment, we are servants to some degree of natural forces and must work with them.
If we look at just one volcanic eruption – Mount St. Helens – in 1980, released 24 megatons of energy. This was more than 1500 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That is just one volcano!
Lightning strikes the earth over 1 million times a day, and each bolt has a temperature hotter than the surface of the sun. The power of one lightning bolt is up to a billion volts. In fact, there is enough energy in one thunderstorm to power all of Australia for a day. Humans think that they can have so much influence on the planet, and while we do have some, it pales with what nature does every day.
We have scientists who make statements such as Lord Kelvin’s in 1900, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now”. What arrogance to believe that we know all that there is to know. There are some scientists who say that there is no such thing as a God. They say it, so it must be true. To make such a statement, they must have been to every corner of the universe and thus are all-knowing. If that were the case, they would in effect, be God. Whether we think there is a God or not, it all comes down to our belief system.
There are others who are humble and realise their place in the scheme of things. Albert Einstein as a great scientist had a profound respect for the universe. There are doctors who are humble when it comes to the human body and recognise that we only know a small fraction of what there is to know.
Our bodies are a product of nature, and while humanity has done some amazing things, there is still a great unknown. So how does this apply to you in your life?
When we see health professionals we can have respect for their knowledge and their skills, however, we must make sure that we are not in awe, blindly submitting ourselves to potentially risky procedures. When it comes to something like surgery, it is prudent to consider the options. Sometimes a second or third opinion may be warranted.
When I was 19, I injured my lower back and herniated a disc. After seeking the help of help professionals but to no avail, I ended up in an orthopaedic surgeon’s office where he indicated that I needed spinal fusion surgery. The fear of surgery dissuaded me from going through with it. Despite the ongoing sciatic pain, I persevered and over time my body healed the disc.
In more recent times my wife, Adele, underwent partial hip replacement surgery overseas following a skiing injury. When she got back home and consulted with an orthopaedic surgeon, he indicated that she would need the other portion of the hip replaced within three years due to wearing out of the joint. After six and a half years, she is still going strong and continues to ski. The doctor was way off in his prognosis.
Yes, we know a lot, but there is so much more that we don’t know. Acknowledge the wisdom of the great individuals who have shaped our society, but never forget that the ultimate wisdom resides in nature, and she doesn’t easily relinquish her secrets.
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