Living as I do under a 350 million year old mountain facing the stormy Atlantic Ocean, I am all too aware of the vagaries of Nature. Thankfully I do not live on a fault line as doing so would be a very risky business indeed, as has recently been demonstrated by the tragic Nepalese earthquakes.
Owner-building our own house in a UNESCO-registered biosphere reserve in what has to be one of Nature’s most spectacular settings, had long been a dream of my husband and I. However, nothing in our previous urban lifestyle in upcountry Johannesburg could have prepared us for what we would face in the “Cape of Storms”. Nature is neutral but it sure didn’t feel like it during our owner-building years. At times the wind felt like a demented presence that wanted to blow us off the mountain!
Our house has been built to withstand the ferocious winds and fierce winter weather that give this southern Cape its name, and consequently most of our walls are double-skinned brick walls. This five meter long wall, however, was blown down like a handfull of children’s blocks thrown about in a childish tandrum during a big wind and we had to rebuild it, this being just one of a long list of trials and tribulations we faced during that testing time.
With the world’s people populating more and more of the Earth’s surface, sadly we can expect an increase in the number of tragic incidences like the Nepalese earthquakes. There is no way around it. Because as the planet breathes and sighs, sputters and coughs, it can’t help but disrupt and displace humanity. The only anwer lies in mitigation and preparation with regard to natural forces, which are likely to increase in both number and intensity this century.