How about that Earth Week? Mother Earth rules
As we humans are down here planting trees for Earth Day, doing some big-time recycling, making a bunch of important pronouncements, we have been massively upstaged Mother Earth, and her stunning volcano is saying to us "Check this out! ... You all think you are something, well let me show you how it's done ..."
In spite of all the technology and money in the world, Mother Earth is still more powerful than all of us. The price tag to European airlines hit some $1.7 billion today in lost flights, not to mention all those flowers and vegetables wilting and withering from northern Africa that can't get anywhere. And, we can't control our Mother, despite all the weapons in the world.
I have to admit that I often forget about Iceland. Occasionally, I am reminded of a country which I think of, that has a lot of geothermal power (apparently related to the Volcano Eyjafjallajökull), some stunning beauties, and a good deal of fish oil. But, Iceland put itself back on the world map this last couple of weeks didn't she?
Maybe a closer look we can also learn a bit from her. Iceland's economy recently collapsed, and unless they are able to get a big boon out of this volcano thing, I am not sure of their plan ahead. The smart guys over there had bet on a couple of things -- a banking industry, and until recently a NATO base. The banking bubble collapsed, big time at the end of 2008, leaving Iceland's economy in a shambles -- begging for bailout loans, from anyone who would dance with them. Since the NATO base, which provided the other bulk of foreign money to the country, had already been shut down, the country has been in pretty significant disarray.
I thought President Obama had inherited a mess to deal with in a presidency. But, it turns out that the first openly lesbian prime minister in the world is in Iceland. It has to bite, to be Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir. She's likely really stressed out, after the last prime minister resigned in the nadir of economic disaster. (He's probably sitting on a fishing yacht in the Mediterranean right now if you ask me.) This must be a bit like riding some 70-foot waves with a long board -- I am hoping Johanna can surf.
So, my big thoughts on the lessons of this last week for me? First, maybe I don't forget Iceland for a while. Then, what about thinking about a durable economy, not based on bubbles of military and banking dollars? (Albeit the U.S. military's 700 bases in the world do bring in some hard cash, and will probably do so for a good while, but one might want to retain a diversified economy in any case).
Then there is that unpredictable future. The last time the volcano erupted, she blew for 14 months (1821-23). And, the Angry Sister Katla hasn't even awoken yet. She has erupted 16 times since 930, one time tearing chunks of ice the size of houses and throwing them at the people. Laki's eruption in l783, killed a quarter of the population, and changed global weather patterns, bringing record snow to New Jersey and drought to Egypt. So, there ya go. Despite all our smarts, we're still small Earthlings, and Mother Earth is still the Big Mama.
Take a good look though. This is some front row seats to the birth of new land, and for crying out loud, respect your Mother.
Winona LaDuke, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is a founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and twice was a Green Party vice presidential candidate, running mate to consumer advocate Ralph Nadar.