Fury of Mother Nature” -- by Robert W. LeeTNA / June 1, 1992
Man's contributions to environmental "pollution" are paltry compared to those of nature. In her exceptional book
Trashing the Planet
, former Atomic Energy CommissionChairman Dr. Dixie Lee Ray notes that, based on the available data, "all of the air polluting materials produced by man since the beginning of the industrial revolution donot begin to equal the quantities of toxic materials, aerosols, and particulates spewed intothe air from just three volcanoes: Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883, Mount Katmai in Alaskain 1912, and Hekla in Iceland in 1947." To which could be added Mount St. Helens inWashington State in 1980 (which pumped out 910,000 metric tons of carbon dioxidealone), El Chicon in Mexico in 1982 (which sent more than 100 million tons of sulfur gases into the stratosphere), and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (which last year hurled upwards of 30 million tons of material into the stratosphere).
Many environmentalists attributed the 1988 drought in the U.S. to globalwarming, but researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder,Colorado reported that the freakish weather was actually due to a natural phenomenon,the interaction of El Niño and La Niña, two massive currents in the tropical Pacific. El Niño is a huge strip of warm water that periodically appears off the west coast of SouthAmerica and disrupts the world's weather patterns. Now and then, it alternates with La Niña, a mass of cold water that comes from the ocean depths along the equator and driftsfor thousands of miles.
Peter Gorner summarized the phenomenon: "Cold water alongthe equator clashed with warmer than normal water southeast of Hawaii. The result was both the U.S. drought and the devastating floods that swamped Bangladesh .... Niña'scooler water disrupted tropical weather patterns and distorted the path of the jet streamacross North America. Then, the jet stream shoved rain-producing weather systems awayfrom the interior of the U.S., resulting in drought."
Sundry animals and insects also contribute their share to environmental"degradation."
for April 20, 1992 noted that in "the Netherlands ... manure from pigs poses a major ecological threat, defiling water supplies with excessive nitrates andacidifying local soils. Sheep have permanently scarred the landscape in Spain andPortugal, while in India ... bovines [cows] are ravenous wraiths whose constant quest for food drives them to ravage standing forests."The February 1983 issue of
reported that "an international team of researchers has discovered that termites generate more than twice the carbon dioxide(CO
)that fuel burning does." According to a study reported in
for November 5,1982, the "estimated gross amount of CO
produced [by termites] was more than twicethe net global input from fossil fuel combustion."