Opinion

Nature’s big wheel is turning

By John Lewis

I don’t think I am alone when I say there is nothing quite so delicious as a wonderful storm.

Of course, I am quite prepared to stand up and face the slings and arrows of outraged fruit growers and emergency workers as I relish the spine-tingling nocturnal cocktail of a rain battered window, a howling wind and a roaring log fire.

If there was a glass of Chianti and a bowl of fava beans at hand, the world could become somewhere wickedly lip-smacking and luscious.

But it never does, because I would not know a fava bean from a baked one.

Anyway, because our home faces west into a curtain of towering river gums, we receive plenty of warning before a storm brews.

This week I heard the familiar rising surf of swaying trees and I stepped outside on to the verandah in the late afternoon to feel the wind and rain on my skin.

The trees bent like tribal dancers and the wind rose to an oceanic crescendo and I felt like ripping my shirt off to roar at the universe like a Viking berserker.

But I didn’t, because I’am an office boy with thin, white skin who catches a cold easily.

Suddenly, among the swirling madness I noticed my shadow had disappeared.

Prince Finski was nowhere to be seen.

I turned around and there he was, standing under the yellow kitchen lights and looking out the glass doors at me, back arched, flanks trembling and his tail between his legs.

It was an odd moment.

Here was me — a 21st century man at the end of a long line of homo sapiens who had travelled from the cave to the office, but who wanted something of the cave again — without the fear.

And there was the domestic dog, standing at the end of a long line of wolves, coyotes and jackals that had travelled with us to this place and who still retained the fear and respect of his ancestors for the terrible power of nature.

Such is his unbroken connection to the wild, Finn can hear a storm brewing hours, sometimes a whole day, before it actually arrives.

Whether it is a change in air pressure, the wheeling and then silence of birds, the disappearance of ants and flies, or the inaudible rumble, the dog knows and feels things that most of us have long forgotten.

Sometimes I think we need to start remembering these things again.

When I hear people say that climate change is inevitable and that through our ingenuity we can learn to adapt, I feel they have lost their connection to the world.

They have no sense of the approaching storm.

Just like the man on the verandah looking at his trembling dog, they have become deaf and blind to the warnings.

In our First World lifetimes, the big wheel of nature has never turned much.

But I do get a sense the wheel is now turning.

As David Attenborough said this week, the effects of climate change will not be felt by him at 93 years of age.

It won’t be felt by me either.

But it will be felt by my children and grandchildren.

Mr Attenborough pointed the finger at the US and Australia for ignoring the coming storm and he warned of mass migration and social unrest if we continue to do nothing.

If I had a tail, it would be slowly curling between my legs.

John Lewis is a senior reporter at The News.