Fire and Flood

Like the seasons themselves, recurrent human catastrophes, tied to natural forces, are spaced throughout the calendar. Spring floods bring misery to those who live on broad, Midwestern floodplains, hurricanes destroy coastal communities from June to November and fire sweeps the hills of Southern California in early autumn.

Yet, unwilling to accept the lessons of natural history, we rebuild in flood zones, populate the barrier islands and construct our dream homes amidst a tinderbox of dry woodlands. As individuals, we play the odds and hope for immunity from nature's cycle. Though our landscapes and historical records provide ample evidence of potential disaster, we assume the future will somehow be different.

So the annual parade of "natural disasters" provides plenty of fodder for the news media as humans endure the wrath of our seasons. Those who survive to rebuild are hailed for their fortitude but others question the wisdom of ignoring nature's power.