“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

Just saw Ron Howard’s film The Sea Beneath Us,about Melville’s research for his great novel, Moby Dick. The film, like the book, is a testament to the “leviathan” and his power. We saw it in 3-D. And, while this magnified the whale’s fearsome abilities it also makes another point. That being the uncontrollable ability of the seas.

Witness Melville’s words on this subject:

“…though but a moment’s consideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet forever and forever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” And:

“But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring; worse than the Persian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”

Whale oil preceded modern oil and its products for our energy. And while we give ourselves credit for ceasing the massacres of whales, our misuse of oil and carbon may find us among the slaughtered. Politicians won’t decide about climate change. The sea will.

And, while the question of off shore drilling here in North Carolina, and off our Atlantic coast, has serious financial and social variables, that is not really the issue. Nature and the sea are showing us some severe possibilities. Any who pretends they know the limits of the power of the seas of the world is a fool.

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