It’s still not nice to fool Mother Nature

A popular margarine commercial during the 1970s featured actress Dena Detrich, in a pastoral setting of trees, flowers and woodland creatures, declaring to an unseen announcer, along with a clap of thunder and lightning flash that, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

People have been trying to fool Mother Nature for decades. Sometimes nature lashes back.

While we celebrate manmade efforts that kept waters from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers from destroying homes, or claiming lives in the Tri-parish region this spring, it is important to remember that those preventions could carry a price.

Releasing water from the Morganza Spillway endangered hundreds of animals and thousands of acres of farmland in the Atchafalaya Basin. On the other hand, it is often floodwaters that help manage wildlife populations and prevent many animals from suffering due to starvation when their numbers become too large.

It is the water flow from occasional floods that offers a clean flushing of swamps that otherwise would become dangerously stagnant to all life forms.

Full currents assist sediment to roll downstream, a factor of particular importance to Louisiana’s disappearing coastline.

Under natural circumstances it was the river that kept the marshes and delta alive for centuries. Manmade controls protected some areas with dams and levees, but robbed others.

Sediment from the Atchafalaya will flow south of Morgan City. Manmade dredging will be needed to keep ship channels safely opened. And it would take manmade efforts to carry sediments east into needed areas of Terrebonne Parish, where they once naturally flowed.

The great floods of 1927 and 1973 were called disasters only because of how they impacted humans. Previous generations forgot to consider that controlling the river could cause even greater destruction once nature takes over and reclaim, what humans judged was solely theirs.

We support commercial enterprise and making the most of the natural resources available to us. We also support being environmentally wise about it so that coastal lands can be restored, wildlife will not be threatened and humans can make a living among elements that were there first.

People have been trying to fool Mother Nature for a long time. It would be foolish to think that Mother Nature would not lash back on occasion. It is not nice or smart to think we can continue fooling her.