Modern technology is so powerful that it is tempting to think that “nature” no longer exists. Commentators talk of the “death of nature”: the world is so affected by human action that nature in the sense of the untouched natural world has disappeared. Yet, recent events have reminded us of Horace’s oft-quoted dictum: Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret – “You may drive nature out with a pitchfork, but she will return.” You may cover the Jersey shore in houses, casinos and amusement parks, but see what wind and water together can do to them. Whether Hurricane (or “Superstorm”) Sandy was a by-product of our greenhouse gas emissions, I don’t know – but she was an impressive reminder that human beings are here only with nature’s kind permission.
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