Nature, Offshore and On, Is Still Dangerous

Nature, Offshore and On, Is Still Dangerous

Nov 18

There is a tendency to believe these days that we have conquered nature and that the world has been pacified. Sure, we get the occasional hurricane, but overall, we feel secure. There’s no longer a wild, untamed west. There are no longer undiscovered, dangerous corners of Africa and South America. The dangers of centuries before are now just for books and movies. We feel, in some sense, absolutely safe.

Which is, when stated so bluntly, completely absurd. Of course, the world is safer than it was. Yes, there are no unmapped corners of the world, and fewer things in nature kill us, but plenty of people still die from nature all the time.

Even in that completely tamed west, there are still regular occurrences of mountain lions and grizzly bears forgetting what century this is and mauling someone. Illnesses like malaria still run rampant in the tropical ring of the world and kill lots of people, even if we don’t experience them here anymore.

Yet, we still continue to assume the world is completely safe for us like it is all within the confines of a zoo.

Take, for instance, fishing. When the word comes up, an image pops into most minds of a nice old man taking his grandkids out in a little boat onto a lake for a quiet day with a line in the water. Or else, an old man perched on a dock, equally quiet and placid.

Such old men exist, of course, and such events happen all the time, yet fishing as an industry is still incredibly dangerous. In 2006, CNN included fishing as one of the most dangerous careers in America. According to the CDC, there were more than 500 deaths in the fishing industry between 2000 and 2009.

Deaths aside, plenty of offshore accidents still occur that may not be deadly but can still be serious.

Such risk, and yet, all we consider is how rubbery the fish is when it reaches our plate.

This situation emphasizes the gap between the reality of nature and how we perceive it. In reality, nature is perhaps not as deadly as it once was but still a great threat to many people every day. Yet, we perceive it as friendly, as placid, as completely tamed.

We forget that there are still storms at sea that can tip over boats. We forget that there are still wild animals in our parks that are not just there for photo opportunities but can harm us.

We forget these things at our own peril because forgetting them means we are not prepared when disasters do strike. While we may not all be fishermen, and we may not all live near dangerous wild animals, the lack of preparation for those occasional hurricanes shows how little people think about how dangerous nature still is. Give it enough time, and nature will strike with just as much devastation as ever. We do ourselves a disservice by pretending the world is any different than it has always been.

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