I went for a week earlier this morning which is just as well as it’s pouring with rain now. I usually visit the small park at the bottom of our hill, and walk to the bridge spanning the river that flows past the park.
The river is just down from where two creeks become one – South Creek which runs parallel to the road on which I live, and the Nambucca River which joins South Creek just before the bridge. The two become the Nambucca River which looks quite small as it flows under our bridge, but by the time it reaches Macksville closer to the coast and then to Nambucca Heads, it becomes quite a large river.
This is a photo of the Nambucca River as it meets the sea. And below is a photo of the river as it flows to the sea close to the coast. By then the creek that flows under the bridge near my home has been joined by two largish rivers further down so that the Nambucca ends up as a pretty impressive river by the time it reaches the sea.
I’m commenting on this because I paused to lean on the bridge this morning and look down at the water rippling along underneath. You can now see the bottom of the river, but when there have been heavy rains then you really get to see the power of nature at work. It’s an amazing force. And what reminded me is the big tree trunk, swept down in the last rains, which is now jammed parallel against the bridge.
We have been here two years now and in that time the river has flooded twice at the bottom of our road. You’d never think it would happen looking at the paddocks stretching around and the quiet little playground on the park. But here are a couple of pics when the river was last in flood.
This is what the bridge looks like normally.
As you can see, when there are floods, the bridge is completely covered and you wouldn’t know a bridge existed if you look at the floodwaters. What you do notice about the waters sweeping along, though, is their power. This past year we’ve seen the power and ferocity of water in the floods in Queensland where a complete township got swept away, and in the devastating tsunami and tidal wave which hit the coast of Japan. Elsewhere there have been huge floods with devastating consequences.
I am making these comments because we, in our monumental arrogance, so often think we can control nature. When we do so, we fail to take into account the ecosystem and its complex, invisible web which creates an interwoven pattern of currents and energies. I learned about this when I lived in a small country town in South-East Queensland, Boonah. You would see rain clouds approaching, which would then part as if hitting an invisible barrier, pass either side of our area, and rejoin the other to drop the rain. Our area was in drought. The dam further south, which had been built a decade or so ago, was virtually empty. It filled up when it was first created, and in those days – in a sub-tropical area – there would be storms every day towards late afternoon, and flash floods which would subside later on in the night. This all stopped when the dam was built.
Australia is the driest continent on earth, and the reaction of the bureaucrats and government leaders is to build more dams, with no thought for the environmental consequences. The same is happening in China after the construction of the huge Three Gorges Dam project. Inevitably there are subsequent climate change effects which are now becoming visible.
We know that human activity is causing climate change, not individual weather patterns, but overall climate change which is resulting in more major, catastrophic weather events, intensifying hurriacanes in the Gulf of Mexico due to rising water temperatures, different movements of fauna in the world, more extinctions of wildlife, different movements of marine life, and various other signs that our wonderful planet is in stress.
So my hope for 2012 and beyond is that we human beings open up to the concept of taking action to live more in harmony with Mother Earth, that we learn to harmonise with nature and we embrace the concept of tuning in to and aligning with the complex ecosystem in which we live. We need to learn that we cannot control nature, but we can co-exist and co-create. Yes, it is going to demand quite fundamental changes in the way we live, but human beings have demonstrated, right throughout history, that they can rise to monumental challenges and I’m optimistic we can rise to this challenge.
But I do think we need to realise we cannot rely on vested interests like plutocracies, the governments they control, and the military-industrial complexes which thrive on war creation and conflict between nations. We need to find ways to move around them and forge ahead with our own creativity, because only in building new forms of society will we secure the future and leave a future for subsequent generations to inherit.