Danusia Kaska.

Our earth is the most wonderful creation of God. Our National Parks are amazing places of sacred land to visit, giving solace for the soul and rejuvenation to the spirit! I love to spend time walking and hiking through forests and bush, and to feel one with nature. 

Recently, I had the joy to travel to California with a friend, and to appreciate the natural beauty of Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks, as well as the rugged coastline of the California coast. It was breathtaking in every way, and very humbling when standing beside a 2,800 year old Sequoia tree, or standing on top of a 9000-foot clifftop. It puts everything into perspective, how small we are in the grand scale of the earth. We are merely humans on a journey in God’s awesome country.

With all this beauty and spectacular scenery, there was another reality we experienced, that of natural disasters. Earthquakes of 6.3, 6.1, and 7.1 on the Richter scale (very large) displaced and rattled thousands of people, although thankfully they did not result in serious injuries or deaths. 

Faultlines under the earth’s crust are responsible for spectacular mountains, but also for earthquakes. It is bittersweet to live on such a beautiful earth which sustains all life, but which also results in natural disasters, and can take away life.

Earthquakes are part of the geographical landscape of California. Concerned family and friends enquired about our welfare, as the news of the earthquakes reached Australia. Miraculously, given the magnitude of the earthquakes, noone was seriously injured or died.

Being so close to the epicentre of the earthquake, we decided to visit the desert to see the crack in the earth’s crust which is even visible from space – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We don’t experience such phenomena in Australia. It wasn’t easy to locate the area, but locals pointed us in the right direction. We joined geologists, and were able to see the large crack which had opened in the middle of the Mohave Desert.

Learning again to respect the earth

Once again, it brought perspective that the land we stand on can bring both beauty and disaster, and we need always to appreciate and respect it. 

I feel blessed to have experienced this and survived. Many people suffer and die from natural disasters every day, however. The pressure we place on the earth with our exploitation, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, consumerism, waste in our seas and on our land, etc means natural disasters will occur increasingly often, bringing suffering and pain, especially to those already living in poverty.

While earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, there are many natural disasters we are causing, at least in part. How do we adapt, when we are not even prepared to make small changes to prevent environmental degradation and climate change?

I also visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, and was pleased to see the Sustainable Development Goals a large focus for their discussions. Two of their points focused on the environment, one on the land, the other under the seas. I hope our leaders will start to take measures to prevent further environmental degradation and catastrophes.

I will continue to love, admire, and respect the beauty of our earth. Hopefully, one day, we will live in a world where our leaders will act resolutely to preserve our sacred earth. 

Danusia Kaska is a Board member of Social Policy Connections and operations manager of the Vinnies Soup Van program.
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