Thursday November 14, 2013 | 08:58 AM
Posted by Harold Johnson

On Friday morning I was at my beach again. It was 8:30am, just after low tide. The air was chilled, but the sun was warm on my back. The tiniest of breezes hung in the air.

At about the same time, on the other side of the world, Super-Typhoon Haiyan was just finishing its path of destruction across the Philippines.


(source)

Haiyan may well have been the strongest storm ever to hit land in recorded history. Making landfall with winds of as much as 195 mph.

Cyclones are fed by moisture & heat. And the oceans of the world are warming. They in fact absorb 90% of the excess heat being trapped by our greenhouse gases. The western Pacific Ocean near the Philippines has recorded a sharp increase in its temperatures in the past generation.

If that trend continues, as seems likely, then extreme storms like Haiyan (and Superstorm Sandy) will become more frequent. And ever more devastating. A natural disaster, made a little less natural but just as unstoppable.

So on Friday morning as I was collecting garbage from what should have been a pristine shore, I stopped for a moment and thought on what my scene could have been. Thought of people far away, for whom the ocean was no longer a giver of life but a dealer of death.

And I was thankful for my calm & quiet morning.

I love to stand by the shore & watch the surf. Not because the ocean is peaceful. But because it is wild. We can pollute it, we can harvest from it, we can heat it, can try to wall ourselves off from it.

But we cannot master it. It is the master.

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About the Author

Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.

Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.

Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.

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