Natural habitats are destroyed by nature, even though scientists have pointed out that nature definitely offers signs that these eruptions are coming well in advance. When it comes to everything from tsunamis to landslides – cliffs, mountains, plant life, vegetation – everything is effected when Mother Nature decides to crumble. But is it just nature that causes these hazards to occur?
Recently, the news has reported that for our ‘friends’ on the other side of the pond – because of incredible amounts of rain happening over the past few months – that Britain’s cliffs and hillsides are experiencing landslides one right after the other. In fact, figures have been announced that almost three times the average number of rockfalls and landslips have been reported in the past year – with expectations that the numbers of these incidents will grow. The damages are monumental, from roads to loss of property and, unfortunately, even some human lives. And when you investigate the habitats that are being destroyed, the number of animals that go along with this destruction is heartbreaking.
However, it is not just Britain where geologists are spreading warnings about landslides, it is also in the United States where they’ve recently garnered headlines. Large cracks have appeared along stretches of coastline, rock and earth is disappearing rapidly – crumbling in on itself and showing that the violent energy of the earth can, quite literally, move mountains.
Last Wednesday on Whidbey Island, located about fifty miles north of Seattle, the landslide that occurred destroyed one home and left more than a dozen people with no road access. The figures spoke of ‘40,000 dump-truck loads of earth’ falling toward Puget Sound. A road was actually moved eighty feet to the west, and a complete forest – the habitat for many forms of wildlife and plant life ended up crushed on the beach below.
Whereas the disasters of, say, a mudslide or an avalanche both usually come from something that happens during a season – some natural trigger that usually involves way too much precipitation falling in a certain area – landslides actually can come from decades of environmental issues. In this latest case, the island of Whidbey has actually been moving for years – over 11,000, to be exact.
The slide was predictable – that’s the view of geologists – but when it was going to happen was not. The great mass of earth shifted – trying to use its own power to then stabilize itself. There is restless energy in the earth which can actually always be seen in the ocean’s wrath; waves erode the earth and beaches causing ‘tiny’ landslides all the time that pull the earth and rock out with the tide.
Quarrying is also another way – man made way – that causes the earth to shift. When quarrying, a great deal of land and precious trees are removed so that stones can be dug up – ruining the soil. Top soil that could be used in far better agricultural ways is lost, and the wildlife population around the area is basically thrown out of their habitat in order to look for somewhere healthy to live. Not only will the local water table fall, but the immense dust that the earth gives off causes massive amounts of air pollution.
Landslides have been affecting many countries for centuries. In the Himalayas, for instance, rocks and boulders, break and slide down the mountainside on a near regular basis.
In addition, quarrying and other ‘building’ issues result in a loss of vegetative cover, which is another reason why landslides can happen. A network of vegetation, roots, minerals, etc., create almost a spider web – a strong mesh that holds the earth together. When that mesh is disturbed or dug up, the land begins to crumble.
Add to these reasons, forest degradation and overgrazing, and landslides become a widespread issue. Huge sums of money have to be spent by many governments around the world in order to remove debris, find a way to install systems that will prevent further landslides, and attempt to restore the minerals and nutrients that have been lost.
Landslides are not all that Mother Nature has up her sleeve, however. Tsunamis leave a trail of death and destruction, where ecological habitats are so mangled that the ‘event’ can literally end a species forever.
Various agencies undertook evaluation exercises to gauge the extent of damage and the long-term effects of the tsunami on habitat, investigating man’s doings and the consequences of Mother Nature’s power. When it came to tsunamis, coral reefs and flora and fauna where the waves came inland were destroyed. In some of the most fragile areas, it will take a decade or more to regain the balance of nature.
The immense attack of seawater also creates salination – which makes the soil less fertile and not able to support vegetation. It also increased the land’s vulnerability to erosion, the impacts of climate change, and food insecurity.
Floods are also Mother Nature’s way of proving the earth’s power. Of course, manmade issues of deforestation and global warming are also two of the causes behind floods. Whether you are on the side of the debate that states nature is to blame for natural disasters; or you are on the other side that states man causes these hazards, the point remains the same. The earth is becoming weaker and weaker. It will not be long before the earth, rock and soil that aids us and our animal friends may not be able to take another natural disaster…so everyone must do their part in order to live to tell the tale.
Humans can get together and do all that’s in their power to not create the triggers that could cause these disasters – and there are many organizations that are working night and day to halt everything from global warming to deforestation. Perhaps, if we do our part, Mother Nature will offer some relief in return.