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May 12, 2008

Nature Gone Wild

Posted: 09:30 AM ET

On the heels of the disastrous Myanmar cyclone ten days ago, nature has had a busy week - with more human tragedy as a consequence.

We awoke this morning to reports of a massive quake near a Chinese city most Westerners have never heard of.    Sichuan Province may be better known to Americans as the home of the giant pandas, and for the region's spicy cuisine.  But Chengdu, obscure to most of us over here, has a metro area larger than any in the U.S. except for New York and Los Angeles. 

At CNN, our first info on a quake anywhere in the world often comes from an automatic email warning system from the U.S. Geological Survey    The 7.8 quake, post-midnight on the East Coast but mid-afternoon in Sichuan Province, China, has a reported death toll in the thousands.   There have been several aftershocks, the largest in the 5 and 6 range on the intensity scale.  The main quake was felt over thousands of miles.

Numerically tame by comparison but just as tragic to those affected were this weekend's tornadoes.  At least 22 Americans died in the Midwest and Southeast.  A relatively small twister ripped up some homes about ten miles from my own house in Ellenwood, Georgia.  Things were much worse in the midwest, where a storm estimated in the EF3 or EF4 range tore through a wide swath of lead-mining country in northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri.   The National Weather Service has counted 66 tornadoes over the weekend, and the one that ravaged Picher, Oklahoma stayed on the ground for 63 miles.  2008 is well ahead of pace for both the number of tornadoes (over 500), and the death toll they've produced - now 98 for the year.

Had enough?   Heavy rains combined with high tides to force evacuations along the Delaware coast.   On Sunday high winds and low humidity conspired to spark large, sudden wildfires along Florida's East Coast, temporarily closing Interstate 95.

We cover all of this stuff through CNN's domestic and international weather center.   One of our summer interns is starting her first day.  It will be a learning experience.

 

Peter Dykstra  Executive Producer   CNN Science, Tech, and Weather

Filed under: earthquakes • Flooding • Severe weather • Tornadoes • Weather


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Wally   May 12th, 2008 11:29 am ET

These are normal events; and there is absolutely nothing man can do to alter, slow or progress it. Reminds me of Matthew 24...


michael   May 12th, 2008 1:31 pm ET

Are you suggesting that Earth's weather is somehow linked to earthquakes? What's next? The moon is made of oil?


Larian LeQuella   May 12th, 2008 3:08 pm ET

Here's an idea: We as human beings are having some sort of an effect on the environment through our actions. The global system is way too complicated for us to fully understand though, so any conclusions anyone makes are bound to have numerous holes in them and contain a lot of logical fallacies. Anyone who comes to you proclaiming that they KNOW is pushing their agenda.

Now, is it such a bad idea to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? Considering the price of oil and gas, probably not!

Is it a bad idea to try to preserve wildlife and ecosystems that we depend on for food, medicine, etc.? Again, it would be the height of irresponsibility to just destroy everything in our own wake.

Should we spend time and money actually trying to understand what the heck is really going on? Of course (unless you prefer dogma, we all saw how well that worked out in the Dark Ages. 😉 ).

I only hope that people actually take the time to learn and educate themselves instead of setting up fortifications on whatever side of whatever imaginary fence people throw up. Only through education, logic, and reason will we be able to tackle the numerous problems we face, weather being only one of them.


Sarah   May 12th, 2008 4:39 pm ET

Very well said.


Da Captain   May 12th, 2008 5:55 pm ET

"The global system is way too complicated for us to fully understand though, so any conclusions anyone makes are bound to have numerous holes in them and contain a lot of logical fallacies. Anyone who comes to you proclaiming that they KNOW is pushing their agenda."

Couldn't agree more... someone should tell this to Gore


Gene   May 12th, 2008 7:35 pm ET

Welcome to Planet Earth. An exciting and fun filled amusement park for the entire family, with rides and entertainment to suit every taste. We hope you enjoy your stay, but. please don't feed the natives.


emmerc   May 12th, 2008 7:47 pm ET

I really agree with Larian LeQuella's commentary. Additionally, we need to recognize that something is really happening out there. Nature is really going wild. I will not say that weather is related to earthquakes nor I will say that they are not because I am not the one who knows that.

What I know is that weather related numbers are soaring, as well as the numbers related to nature disastrous events. Yes we need to study more about these numbers but we need to be more responsible with our stewardship of this planet's resources.

Nature is impacting everything from oil production to food production, air traffic and tourism. All that translates in numbers of countries having a hard time and then millions of people having a hard time. Finally, when we are, personally, part of the numbers then things get really serious.

Please do not forget Katrina nor the Asian Tsunami nor Burma, today we add USA's tornadoes and China's earthquake. Do not forget the ice caps melting away and the sky resorts that will not open any more.


Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA   May 12th, 2008 9:39 pm ET

There are some who would place significance on these events as being signs of the end times. I hear this explanation on a regular basis. I am a follower of Jesus but am not with any of the end time prophecies by people who are looking for a way out of this existance without regard for the rest of human and animal kind, the "chosen ones." Worse yet, there are those who look to make a buck off folks "need to know".

I am in agreement with Larian. Let us get the facts, learn to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and than maybe our over consumption and war mongering stance in the world will soften as we consider that maybe our "blessings" are coming at a cost to other inhabitants of this beautiful planet we call home. Wally... get a grip.


CB_Brooklyn   May 12th, 2008 10:44 pm ET

Interested in knowing why the weather is changing? Check this series of articles:
http://www.checktheevidence.co.uk/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=6&id=20&Itemid=50


Jeff   May 13th, 2008 12:37 am ET

Michael, don't be a fool. The moon is clearly made of cheese.


Aussie Jane   May 13th, 2008 1:08 am ET

And don't forget, the 2008 Hurricane Season is only a few weeks away. This is only the beginning of a very long year.


John   May 13th, 2008 4:43 am ET

Aussie Jane:

Yeah you're right. It's likely to be a very long year for hurricane watchers just as is has been for the last 2 when nothing has happened. Global warming my ass.


Book smart   May 13th, 2008 8:50 am ET

I may have just started paying more attention to the media recently, but I can't help noticing that the natural disasters in the past 4 or 5 years have heightened in intensity and frequency. It appears that we go from one to the next with nary a day or two in between.

No one is spared from these, while Oklahoma and Kansas expect a few tornadoes a year, Georgia does not. I live in South Florida, and we are on fire. Not one morning goes by without waking to the horrible smell of fire, ashes on cars, and a haze in the air. Where is this summer season going to take us, flash floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, yes, absolutely, but where is it going to happen next?

The U.S., Myanmar, China, Phillipines, et cetera, no one should be feeling comfortable.


Nan   May 13th, 2008 10:20 am ET

I totally agree that big decisions based on theories are going to do nothing but get us in a bigger mess.

Peter didn't mention the volcano in Chile. Check out these photos – especially the night shots. http://megagalerias.terra.cl/galerias/index.cfm?id_galeria=30734


Mark   May 13th, 2008 10:47 am ET

Ever seen the movie "The Seventh Sign"? All this adverse weather started when the sonomie hit. Sorry, I think I spelled it wrong but you know what I mean. I think its mother natures way of telling us enough is enough. Its the wrath of god that is angry with us. I cannot remember when the last time we had so many earthquakes, fires, tornados, etc. in such short time but I am a big believer that things happen for a reason. I think we all need to step back and take a good look of whats happening and be prepared of whats to come..............its far from over!


Larian LeQuella   May 13th, 2008 10:48 am ET

Thank you. 🙂 I know that sometimes my writing style may come through as a bit haughty, but I really want people to examine things for themselves and not just take some other person's word at face value. Again, it's worth the effort to study and understand all you can. And it's also worthwhile to be environmentally conscious. Just don't try to use junk science to push your agenda.


Mark   May 13th, 2008 12:01 pm ET

Look, I don't know who or what you are but I'm just speaking from a simple mans perspective........... I really don't understand all that cloke and dagger stuff. All I know is that we are currently in trouble from global warming to the recent weather events that are in place. I know that there is no solution to this so lets no kid ourselves.


chucki   May 13th, 2008 12:17 pm ET

i can't belive that thats cray i thought earth quake's don't hit china


Wayne   May 13th, 2008 12:47 pm ET

Jesus said the Father is all in all. So, nothing exists that is not made of Him. Since Humans insist on destroying their World, what will the outcome be? Nature, is the Father speaking out, not a mythical being named Mother nature. Mankind is nearing a time where a lot of us will be leaving because of what has been done. It is not all about who has the most Toys, or doing something just because it pops into our Minds. The real question is, how much time is left to fix the problems, and I do not think it is Years away, as some set their targets for, as with Carbon Emmissions, or doing Business in the same old way as before. Still, you cannot save People from themselves.


Wxman   May 13th, 2008 1:12 pm ET

Sad to say, but after over 30 years of experience in the field of meteorology and environmental science, there is much to learn. I am aware that we all need to get answers and not bury our heads in sand. That said, I think that we tend to think very one dimenional: meaning that we cast blame on this, that and the other. I agree with Larian that we as sentients should shoulder our responsibilities and act for the continuity of the human race. Quoting "We are less that we are but more than we can be.


Larian LeQuella   May 13th, 2008 1:44 pm ET

Something else to keep in mind: The ever present, 24 hour news outlets sent to our TVs, Cell Phones, Computers, PDAs, Blackberries, etc. can make it seem that more and more natural disasters are happening, thus fueling the irrational thought that the end is neigh. If you look at some of the incredibly strange weather we had back in the 70's, people were convinced the next ice age was upon us.

Don't be reactionary lemmings from self serving and limited sources of information. Make every effort to understand the CONTEXT of these events, as well as some of the more underlying reasons as to why you seem to hear more about them. I know the human mind needs to make patterns and reasons out of unrelated data. Resist the urge to think you really understand what is going on.

Religion has nothing to do with it either. Just because something happens, doesn't mean there is a supernatural cause. Although the root cause may be hard to identify, we don't need to invent something to fill the gap in our knowledge. That is just as irresponsible as any destructive course of action because dogma satisfies us so we never do look for that root cause.

Sorry, started rambling there. 😉


Mark   May 13th, 2008 1:56 pm ET

Ok weather man, answer me this. Why is global warming such a top priority for scientists to find answers to but the wrath of earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, etc. are not making anyone think that something is wrong here........why is this all happening??


Larian LeQuella   May 13th, 2008 2:05 pm ET

"wrath of" That right there Mark is the logical fallacy trap you set for yourself. There is no wrath from inanimate objects and natural processes. Did you know there was an earthquake in China back in 1976 that killed a quarter MILLION people! That's 250,000! BIG number! Do you remember it? Was it big news? To the Chinese I'm sure it was HUGE! But CNN, the internet, and all the resources we have now did not exist back then. The reason I am mentioning that again is tied back to my post just previous to yours. There is no malicious (or benevolent?) mind behind it. You're just more "connected" to the information, and feel a need to make sense of it.

Here are a couple links that may start you to some intellectual curiosity to find out on your own instead of relying on what you are told by others. Make sure to cross reference:

Earthquakes: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/why.html
Volcanoes: http://www.broughton-jnr.lincs.sch.uk/volcanoes.htm
Storms: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/meteorology/storms-faq/part1/


Barb .. pausing to rethink   May 13th, 2008 2:06 pm ET

Here's a perspective ... my son shared this with me and others:
" ......was reading news accounts of the China earthquake. Hit near Chengdu and felt in swaying office towers in Beijing and Shanghai. That would be like an earthquake in Denver that would be felt in D.C. and Atlanta. "

Imagine the terror the people near the epicenter experienced and still are with the continuing strong aftershocks....

no matter what our personal faith or faithless leanings are let's all at least pause and rethink our own personal response to the needs of these people ... quake, cyclone, tornado, mass population victims and the single victim in our own neighborhood who needs a smile, a piece of bread, and bed or just a literal hand to help get back up and face another day.


Da Captain   May 13th, 2008 2:40 pm ET

My guess is it's just the cycle of things...
Hurricanes were out of control throughout the 30s/40s...
Then things were much quieter for the rest of the century (69 was bad)...
Then 2005 hits and was a record year... worst since 1969 and 1935...

These things have been going on for a long time... when you think of how long we've been keeping data it's a blink really...

Wouldn't get too stressed... there are articles from the late 1700s where they built roads across the New York harbor in the winter... so the wagons could cross... imagine that freezing hard today... people would be renting "The Day After Tomorrow" to figure out what to do...

Weather changes... I'm not saying we don't have an impact on it... but I doubt very much... at least there hasn't been anything off the scale yet.

IMO


The watcher   May 13th, 2008 9:07 pm ET

I will be the first one to say it seeing how noone else is.......2012 and the alignment of our solar system is causing all of this!


Larian LeQuella   May 13th, 2008 10:22 pm ET

Sorry to be posting on this story so much, just not much happening on this particular SciTech blog though...

Another factor to consider (aside from the ever present 24 hour, non-stop news) is that as human population continues to grow, and populate more of the earth's surface, we are more likely to be effected by any happenings in that localle. Perhaps we are populating areas that our ancestors stayed away from for good reason, but now we feel confident (overly so even) that we have conquered whatever disadvantage that locale may have held? Just a thought to add to the mix.


Richard Patton   May 13th, 2008 10:51 pm ET

I think the earth is way bigger than man and our machinations. One simple fact is that if you take all the nuclear bombs in the entire world and explode them in Lake Superior it will raise the temperature 1 degree. I think it is just a lot of hubris and crisis mongering to assume that us humans are having some enormous impact on the weather.

It seems to me that in every age and generation there are always dooms-day scenarios. Man-made Global Warming seems to be just the latest fad.


Franko   May 14th, 2008 2:31 am ET

Once upon, before time began, the cool greenies were warning the denialist warmies to recycle, and not build the garbage mountains to the sky. Then, one day, the garbage mountains became so
massive that no light could escape from the newly created black hole, sucking their hole universe into the singularity. All time ceased into the quantum foam.

The quantum foam was more fundamental than space-time, and tunneled out into the Big Bang. The new universe cooled down to form the lighter elements, Supernova created a gas of heavier
elements. Gas gravitated form the solar system. Earth got hit by a large object to make the Moon. Asteroid killed the dinosaurs, allowing the rise of mammals. Humans created garbage mountains,
making nature drunk with CO2. Mother Earth became a Bull in the China Shop, The ground is shaking, volcanoes are spewing, tornadoes are twirling King Kong emerges, then Godzilla, and
finally Sheeva the Destroyer. .. ... ....


henderson aka txtj   May 14th, 2008 3:25 am ET

the quakes in the usa r not the norm .,.,the alantic n pacific ridges r becoming active ,.time for eruptions quakes n storms .,the earth is moving again ,.look at the quakes in asia u can c were they r dividing ,.,.edgar cayce prdicted the great lakes will join the mississippi ,.the mideast quakes r along that fault that will do it n the storms after quakes cause http://earthquake.usgs.gov/ look at the ones in usa n asia n these been ative the last decade more so then before .,mother nature can be predictiablen prepared for.,,.txtj


henderson aka txtj   May 14th, 2008 3:35 am ET

if im not mistaken there was a quake in the gulf of mexico before katrina ,.,.i also believe ocean quakes cause hurricans

jesus is our brother god our father,.mother is nature ,.,.would god get jeaulous if u prayed to jesus instead of him ummmmmmmm im sure u will find out hehe but god is pure love n he dont like haters

ty txtj


henderson aka txtj   May 14th, 2008 4:00 am ET

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/ notice the quakes in the usa ,.they r along a fault line

http://volcanoworld.wordpress.com/ these r the current volcanos of the upper world

http://www.intellicast.com/Global/Satellite/Current.aspx this is current world weather map ,.,.if u look at all 3 ur see my theroy volcanos cause quakes that cause stroms ,.ty txtj


Moss   May 14th, 2008 9:54 am ET

The most valid comment that I can pull from this....is the fact that we are MORE AWARE of the disasters that are ocurring, not that they are MORE FREQUENT. A good example of this emerging phenomenon is modern medical diagnostics. It seems as though there is a trend toward increasing illnesses and the need for perscription drugs. However, more and more specialists feel the need to add their name to an obvious, regular ocurrence just to make some money. There isn't an increase in illness, just an increase in the number of illnesses that have been defined.


Wally   May 14th, 2008 2:22 pm ET

Uhhh, getting a grip of the article...please do not confuse weather with man's actions. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, and heavy rains are forces man cannot alter, slow or progress except in miniture laboratory models like those seen in the LA museum or a computer screen. As humans, we can, and should, help those who are harmed by these natural forces. But don't think for a moment, these natural forces can be controlled. There is a fun book called Job that has interesting weather manipulation.


Mark   May 14th, 2008 3:22 pm ET

Boy....the world is so complicated.....we can't possibly understand it.

So lets just trash it and say we didn;t understand...great logic people!


Seeing   May 16th, 2008 12:32 pm ET

Yes, these natural events have been happening over centuries......but this is the first time in history we have been able to literally "SEE" them all. It tends to remind me of quote from Jesus "when you SEE all these things come to pass, look up...". I have a hard time putting alot of confidence in future weather patterns and climate change since they have a hard time getting the annual hurricane predictions correct. The last 2 years have been very anticlimatic since Ivan and Katrina (I live on the Gulf Coast) and they kept saying it was going to be busy.....Hmmmm, I must have missed something. (Thankfully). One thing we can change is our attitudes towards mankind and love one another.


Barbara Tarbell   May 17th, 2008 3:12 pm ET

Hey guys,
I do not have a PHD in astrophysics nor electromagnetics, but wouldn't it make sense to ponder the global effects those man-made satellites above our earth have on our weather patterns. Wouldn't anyone guess that there is an intelligent and mathematical REASON why all of our planets do what they do?
Why don't you guys with your PHD's start doing some research.


Barbara Tarbell   May 17th, 2008 8:12 pm ET

and/or perhaps we have siphoned so much oil that the 'gears' of this earth of ours are beginning to wear and tear.
Too bad the inventors in the last two centuries didn't see this coming.

People flying faster, driving faster, running faster into brick walls.

Hell, get these 4-wheeled contraptions off the road,; get rid of the roads and let's invent. (As that dude did when he invented the one-seater hover-craft...what happened? He was bought off by a giant and took money for his invention. Anyone remember the New York Times tuesday science section many years ago???? .
Create your own time machine and go back and see where all the problems started and just undo them.
We can make this planet beautiful again.


Pending Global doom and gloom   May 18th, 2008 12:19 am ET

uh oh... my kid brought home a bad grade on her report card... must be global warming to blame...

oh, sorry, I forgot, "global warming" is no longer the accepted term since the earth hasn't really warmed in a decade... so now I'll use the more accepted "man-made global climate change."

Geez, some people will believe anything...

We can't PREDICT the weather two days out with a shred of accuracy, yet we can somehow manage to CHANGE not just the weather on a given day, but the climate, the long term weather patterns. And not intentionally, we did it accidentally. uhhhhhhh yeah... I totally believe that. 😉

Environmentalism is a religion. And not a nice religion like Buddhism, but a snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues, believing in possessions and exorcism, Holy-Roller religion (think David Koresh on crack). It's "faith for the faithless."


henderson aka txtj   May 18th, 2008 11:58 pm ET

some think the solar lkares r causing the ice to melt but u got to wonder if mosre ice is gathering at the other pole
u can save about 1/3 of u gas useage if u dont run ur ac ,.go green turn of the car ac hehe yeah right


lr   May 19th, 2008 2:41 am ET

Pending gloabal doom, I'm with you man. 100%. People should be ashamed for believing everything an agency (of the government, news, or environmental) tells them. Check it out people, Organizations, governments LIE all the time. They will do anything when their liveliehood is threatened...Surely you don't believe AL GOre is a good man. He is an idiot, just like his dad. A crook. A lawyer needing a job. While we all get in knots over the environment, our economy is in shreds, america is losing jobs and becoming multi-lingual, and is probably headed for the toilet....It's time to hit the streets again people, and protest that Nero is fiddling while Rome (the good ole usa) is going up in smoke.


Larian LeQuella   May 19th, 2008 2:16 pm ET

Okay... henderson aka txtj, please do us all a favour and type out words and use English. Your comments are nearly undecipherable, and sound even more ignorant than what I am able to translate them into... Your research is lacking, the correlations you draw are wildly inaccurate, and in general nothing you have posted makes any sense. Sorry to be so blunt.

Barbara Tarbell, not sure where to start on your comments. At least you admit to not having a PhD, but even a Bachelor's degree in basic science would alleviate any of the concerns (or repudiate any statements) you made. Keep in mind, there are lot's of reasons why things happen, we just can't predict them with our current technology and understanding. We need scientists and educated people for that. Sadly the US education system really isn't up to the task if we can't dump the dogma.

Science v Religion: Dogma & Dogmatism are the Real Enemies

There are many conversations over the conflicts between science and religion, but if we examine them closely we should find that the real conflicts are between more fundamental concepts: dogma and reason. One opposes the other, and insofar as religion remains dogmatic, it will always come into conflict with science.

In the October/November 2005 issue of Free Inquiry, Joshua Fost explains that we should focus on the conflict between dogmatism and reason rather than between science and religion. First, dogmatism can be found in more places than religion, and second, it might be a less confrontational way to frame the issue:

It is sometimes argued by those who seek harmony between the two camps that faith and reason — religion and science, dogma and skepticism — are simply two different ways of knowing. I disagree. Faith reserves the right to suspend logic, and from there, no progress or understanding is possible. If P and ~P are both true, we know nothing. Our goal, therefore, should be to show not that any particular religion is wrong, but that all dogma-based approaches to life are nonsensical and harmful.

Besides, it is probably easier rhetorically, pedagogically, and socially, not to mention less confrontational, to get a dogmatist to see that emotions are ineffective in solving physics problems than it is to convince a theist that the Bible has nothing useful to say about molecular biology. And yet, the first lesson ultimately leads to the second.

Fost is certainly right that faith, religion, and dogma are not “ways” of acquiring knowledge about the world around us. He is also right that once a system openly and explicitly declares a willingness to ignore or abandon logic, then it forfeits any claim for authority over empirical studies of nature and the universe. This is how dogmatic systems work, though, and not just religious ones — we can find the same thing occurring in a wide variety of ideologies.

Because such ideologies have such an emotional hold over people, though, it can be difficult to get them to understand this. It’s not easy to let go of prejudices and assumptions in the face of cold facts, but there are ways to explain it that might get people started down the right path.


CB_Brooklyn   May 19th, 2008 8:00 pm ET

A new groundbreaking paper by former Clemson University Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Judy Wood, on weather-related disasters has been published on her personal website: http://www.drjudywood.com/articles/erin/

A press release regarding this paper has been published as well:
http://www.prlog.org/10073301-new-study-by-former-professor-examines-hurricane-erin-on-9-11-01.html


Larian LeQuella   May 20th, 2008 8:15 am ET

With emphasis on FORMER professor. Wonder what happened to her to go off the edge like that! 😉


Barbara Tarbell   May 21st, 2008 11:48 am ET

Pardon moi, Mr. or Ms. Larian LeQuella, but I thought this was a blog pertaining to our earth and the REALTIES regarding global warming and chaotic weather patterns....NOT A COMMENT IN THEOLOGY.
You addressed me, but not with an intelligible response.
You might want to visit a theology blog.
Are you a scientist? A theologian?; or have you just fell off the tower of Babel?


CB_Brooklyn   May 21st, 2008 7:36 pm ET

Not only has Dr Wood lost her job, she also lost her student Michael Zebuhr, murdered in an alleged robbery, after doing 9/11 research with her. She also lost several instructors in the Virginia Tech massacre.


Barbara Tarbell   May 25th, 2008 1:28 pm ET

Problem with our society is that so many express views but do not act upon them. Why are we a nation communicating in this age of electronics about our woes. Do we have to make robots to ACT?


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