Man vs. Nature

It has been said that there are only seven stories in this world:

  1. man vs. man
  2. man vs. nature
  3. man vs. himself
  4. man vs. unknown
  5. man vs. society
  6. man caught in the middle
  7. man and woman

(And you’ll have to disregard the lack of sense for gender equality herewith; it’s just the phrasing for crying out loud! 😀 )

Indeed, every movie, every book, every blogpost we read… revolves around at least one of them. Movie directors, when confronted how their newest feature hasn’t brought anything novel, usually defend themselves by this dogma. It is all about man – for how can we tell a story about anything, or anyone else? Even stories featuring animals (fables) are, of course, about man, or, hm, the elusive thing that is human nature.

map
Flood map of the Balkans, where river Sava’s bed overflow, caused by heavy rains, was the primary onset.

This story here is about man vs. nature. In the last few days my home country has been devastated by floods, reportedly most severe ever. Could it have been prevented? Or at the minimum, properly braced and assessed in advance, avoiding at least human casualties? Hard to say. All things considered, likely not. When natural disasters strike, man is always on the losing side, though never completely. But the imagery and consequences are even worse when a country is already devastated by years of suffering economy and questionable leadership.

pacific-rim-scientist
Scientists in the movie “Pacific Rim” try to understand the biology and behavior of gigantic marine creatures using some cerebral connection mumbo-jumbo.

Coincidentally, I saw the latest rendition of Godzilla last weekend. With current (and past!) events in mind, I wasn’t entirely comfortable watching paleopredators-induced tsunamis swallowing Tokyo and Honolulu, but the subtext was clear: when faced with an uncontainable natural force, man is basically powerless. All these, so-called ”disaster movies” almost always feature expert scientists who usually advocate for understanding and less for violence (at least when the phenomenon is of a biological nature). Yes, a job of a scientist is to understand and not fight the nature. Or? Is it really? All these stories about regenerating power of stem cells? Telomeres and immortality? How about every medicine we ever made to fight most diseases we’re so prone to? But that’s also a part of a natural process. As human beings, with our power of creative thinking and doing, we’re bound to control some aspects of nature, because one way or another we’re a natural part of it 😉

the-fountain-50570b938d121
Beautiful imagery that is the movie “The Fountain”, another tale about man vs. nature, in this case – mortality.

One can only hope that one day we’ll get to understand (and control?) most mysteries of this world, and beyond. All of them? I’d personally rather not, some things are better left unknown and uncontrolled. Thinking of the fate of our lov/nely planet, if we manage not to destroy it ourselves, or if we’re lucky to be avoided by a Texas-size asteroid, the most likely scenario is that we’ll be scorched by the Red Giant Sun, some 7 billion years from now. Unless we think of an exit strategy, or transcend 😛 It seems like this new movie, ”Interstellar”, deals with the post-Earth fate of humanity. Until then – take care of each other and appreciate what you’ve got. Always keep the spirit up (whatever “the spirit” is…) and most importantly: believe in science! Therewith you by default believe in humanity.

To be continued….

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