Here’s another installment in everyone’s favourite series, “Why I Would Sacrifice A Lamb To Nature If It Asked Me To”.
This is a photo taken by NASA, and I’ll post their quick blurb about it below:
Cumulonimbus Cloud Over Africa
High above the African continent, tall, dense cumulonimbus clouds, meaning ‘column rain’ in Latin, are the result of atmospheric instability. The clouds can form alone, in clusters, or along a cold front in a squall line. The high energy of these storms is associated with heavy precipitation, lightning, high wind speeds and tornadoes.
No wonder fledgling man created deities.
Look at the awesome power and size of this naturally occurring phenomenon. And then consider how tiny an effect it is compared to our planet’s environmental system as a whole, followed by how tiny our world is in comparison to the cosmos.
It’s certainly inspiring, but it’s also just scary. Being a fan of astronomy I’ve become acutely aware of how fragile Earth’s hold on a temperate climate is. Our planet happens to sit in what scientists call a ‘Goldilocks zone’, neither too hot nor too cold, shielded from cosmic radiation by our magnetic field, and with just enough of a natural greenhouse effect to keep the oceans from solidifying into ice.
In fact, the planets to either side of us, Venus and Mars, both exhibit signs of having been formerly much more temperate. Each one is a lesson about how climates can go astray, and how delicate the balance between habitable and not really are.
Now don’t worry, I’m not getting political, and while I’d never judge anyone for hugging a tree, I’m not suggesting you do so here.
I’m just saying that it’s an awesome, frightening realization, when nature shows you how big it is. I must admit that during particularly bad thunderstorms, which I love to observe, I often wonder if this will be the one that surprises everyone by spiraling completely out of control and killing us all.
I’m cheery like that.
While the earth’s climate seems stable when observed from the relative micro-moments that are our lifespans, it’s really an ever changing dynamo, the functioning of which we’ve only begun to understand, and with a wildly uncertain future.
I mean hey, it’s not like I wet myself every time the wind blows. The odds of seeing any real fluctuation in our atmospheric systems during any particular lifetime are almost nil. Even a runaway greenhouse effect, either manmade, or natural like on Venus, would take millennia to play out. At least based on what we currently know.
So since we can only partially understand what’s happening in nature and have no real idea what is to come, I’m heading down to the local farm to buy a baby sheep. And make no mistake, I’ll cut that little fucker’s throat if a really big cloud asks me to.