Dam(n) the forces of nature

It took millions of years to shape the landscape of Yosemite through the forces of heat, ice and time. The craggy stone cathedrals of the high Sierra took centuries to carve. The setting is like few others.

Over a much shorter period, modern man erected a huge cement dam 80 years ago to clog up a river and drown the trees that spread on the floor of the canyon known as Hetch Hetchy.

It may take a few more years to return the canyon to what nature built by blowing a hole in the dam and allowing the Tuolumne River to take its course. But before that reclamation, it may take years of political arm-wrestling between the forces of environmental activists and pragmatic politicos (see “Bringing down a dam”).

The force of nature, specifically water in the form of a devastating wave that crashed into Southeast Asia, has been at the front of our attention for a fortnight now. The stories that are coming back from places like southern Thailand are compelling. A few Sacramentans were caught in the cataclysmic aftermath of the deadly waves and tell their stories of survival in “Paradise lost” by freelance writer Rick Boeck.

The channels through which we all can contribute to the rebuilding of the area are numerous and heartwarming. But may we add that at least one of the ways you can help could be belly-warming, too? We are happy to promote the Soup Slurp at the Koyasan Temple this Sunday, where there will be several satisfying soups to taste, and the money will go to relief efforts in South Asia (click here for details).

The outpouring of relief from Americans through telethons and Internet donations has been phenomenal. Perhaps it is because our government has become a harmful force in places like Iraq and has spent so much of our money doing it that many of us now feel guilt and want to do something helpful for the world. If there could ever be a positive that comes out of the tsunami devastation, it is that we realize that we are in a world community and all have a part to play.