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November 8, 2012
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SKINNERS: Man cannot conquer nature

SHE SAID: We humans, especially those on the eastern seaboard, received another reminder the last few weeks that we are only a part of something much larger. Hurricane Sandy, in a day, laid waste to buildings, systems, infrastructure, the best that we have built, over the last hundred years. That storm, plus devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and other catastrophic events around the world in the last few years, reminds us that everything is not under our control.Colorado author, Craig Childs, who was in Grand Junction last weekend, points out that we often do not take advantage of the wake-up call a disaster provides. "Instead of putting our minds to solutions while our memories are fresh, we work to return things to 'normal.' The seas are rising and we are in the way." Childs believes that we need to explore and implement solutions. We could curb that high water danger in the way the Netherlands, London, and other threatened cities have by constructing dikes and other devices to curb rising waters.Here in Colorado, we face the opposite problem: Valuable water is becoming scarcer and more in demand. Childs notes in his latest book, "The Apocalyptic Planet," that the Sonoran Desert is moving steadily north from Mexico. One wonders where all the people are going to go if the droughts continue and populations are displaced. I shudder to think that Junction could be the new Phoenix. HE SAID: So are you saying we won't have freezing temperatures? We already have the heat and dryness in the summer. Are you suggesting that we fight against what Mother Nature brings us? Maybe we shouldn't build sea walls along the entire eastern seaboard. Maybe we shouldn't have rebuilt New Orleans below sea level. Massive projects to change the direction nature insists on going is not a good idea and is a colossal waste of time and money. And once you built these items, you encourage more and more people to move into the area, creating more deaths when Mother Nature erupts.SHE SAID: You're ignoring part of my point...where are the displaced people going to go if we do not build in floodplains, or on islands that will eventually be inundated? Relocating millions of people who are brave enough to choose to leave would be catastrophic for the areas that become flooded with people. A significant number of people have not returned to Louisiana and Mississippi, but what would it be like if those people had numbered in the millions? How are we going to keep people out of the states that already face water problems? Is your solution to let everyone die who remain in the potential disaster zones like California or the Atlantic Coast?HE SAID: So are we responsible for spending our money so they can live where they want to live, knowing that the disasters may come? Wouldn't it be better, rather than spending massive amounts on dikes or whatever, to begin to relocate these population centers slowly? I think there is enough room from North Dakota to Oklahoma to provide housing for lots of people. Instead of subsidizing center pivot irrigation for marginal farm areas in eastern Colorado, we might encourage small towns to use the water for their residents. We should encourage the use of windmills and the sun for power to cut back further on carbon emissions.People were encouraged to return to New Orleans because the government and business made tons of loans and grants to rebuild levees and reconstruct homes on taller stilts in exactly the same place. Without that assistance, they might have moved away. Who knows how long those measures will suffice? I am suggesting that we need to look differently at how we rebuild from catastrophes. Instead of saying that nature is our enemy to defeat with bulldozers and concrete, we should try to adapt to nature with new concepts instead of trying to conquer it. SHE SAID: Trouble is, no one can predict where and when the next disaster will occur so it is easy to be complacent. Childs notes that the rising temperatures in the oceans create the sudden, severe weather like Hurricane Sandy, so until drastic changes are made, this pattern will become more common. Meanwhile, we can blissfully enjoy our utopia at the top of our small hill until, and if, the water runs out or more people move here.The Skinners hope your exposure to water involves hot showers, smatterings of snowflakes and gurgling brooks. They can be reached at

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 8, 2012 02:21PM Published Nov 8, 2012 02:20PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.