Saturday, April 15, 2006


Iowa City is a bright spot on this state's landscape, the closest thing this town has to a hipster haven. It's also where I lived for most of the time I was married. And Thursday night, it was decimated by tornadoes.

Ordinarily, the combination of things mentioned in the previous paragraph would cause me to deploy a wildly inappropriate metaphor, likening my marriage to a tornado, leaving devastation in its wake. And you know, I'm tempted.

But right now I'm interested in how such a violent weather pattern came to be. According to meteorologists, Iowa's unusually warm and humid spring is a breeding ground for such activity. They'll say that, but they won't say why it's so warm and humid. This spring follows what TV weathercasters like to call an "exceptionally mild"--but I would call "freakishly warm"--winter. But let's not think about why the winter was mild.

Why was last year's hurricane season so bad? What was up with that tsunami? And what about the polar ice caps? Weird, huh? We should do something about it someday.

It's started. The beginning of the end is here, but this is no Biblical prophecy. These are acts of man, not God. Bit by bit, the human race has sought to alter its surroundings, to bend the laws of nature to its will. Sometimes this was done with the best of intentions, sometimes it was done in the pursuit of power and profit, but it was all done recklessly.

And given what we know, what do we do? More of the same! Can anybody offer a moral justification for driving a Hummer? Aside from the embarrassing name, this is a vehicle that pretty much just says, nope, no concern for the greenhouse effect here. How stupid are we?

So we keep screwing with nature, and we're always shocked--shocked!--when nature screws back. And nature will always win, because no matter how much we mess with the planet, the planet will always be here. We may flood it or fry it, but it'll still exist, circling the sun, implacable and unconcerned. No one will remember the beautiful church in Iowa City, or how it was destroyed. There'll be no one left to worship there anyway, and no hymns to be sung.