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Tuesday, 8.30.05:  Dangerous Places

This morning I'm thinking about dangerous places. Like, say, New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

The question always comes up: why do people insist on building their houses in flood plains (or on earthquake faults or on the side of a volcano, or on the side of a canyon prone to wildfires and mudslides)? Why?

Oh, it's clear why trailer parks spring up on flood plains -- poverty. And it's clear why some developers push the envelope -- greed and short-term perspective.

But overall, the mystery remains. For some reason the most attractive places on earth are the most dangerous. Fatal beauty. Why did things evolve that way or gracious! what was the intelligent designer thinking?

Look at the volcano. I've seen active volcanoes outside of Mexico City and on Java. They are beehives of industry. If there is adequate time between eruptions, the volcanic ash is transformed into amazingly fertile soil. People would be fools not to take advantage of it.

And all those hurricane-prone coastal areas -- isn't it the massive forces of nature that ultimately produce the good fishing -- and eventually tourism?

And earthquake zones give us mountains and godlike views and relief from the heat and disease of the lowlands.

People who live and work in these places love their intimacy with the most powerful forces in nature -- and maybe the threat of extinction just around the corner gives extra energy, extra joie de vivre to their days.

As for me, snowy winters and a power outage every ten years is about all the beauty I can stand.




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