Water, of course, is essential to life.
We normally think of water as soothing and caressing.
Indeed, a mere raindrop is rather docile.
Extrapolate that to millions and perhaps billions of raindrops such as those drowning Houston, and water is powerfully destructive.
Water is surprisingly heavy. A typical bathtub holds 40 gallons or so of water. That is 330 pounds.
Do the math and the enormity of weight crushing the bathtub that Houston has become courtesy of Harvey is unfathomable.
The residents of Houston have been stripped of everything, horribly vulnerable to weather’s brutality.
Homes, possessions, jobs, cars, lives all lost in the gargantuan abyss of water.
Like a gigantic wet Post-it note, nothing sticks like it once did in Houston.
This calamitous disaster has a major U.S. city dissolving in powerlessness, much like a lump of sugar in water.
It will take years for Houston to recover. The physical damage someday will be repaired.
But the psychic damage inflicted by Harvey on Houstonians will prove eternal, following them, shadows growing longer with the setting sun.
While our televisions and tablets display an endless stream of heroic rescues of hapless, desperate people, you can hear the sound of despair ratcheting up to the screaming point.
No wonder there is a bleached look to their eyes, their pupils holding back every and all expression.
Incalculable loss leaves people numb.
I suspect the enormity of Harvey was in part the tragic byproduct of human-aggravated global warming.
Granted, the global-warming deniers claim that weather is not climate, that massive storms and coastal flooding predate the Industrial Revolution and any attempt to link Harvey with carbon emissions is ludicrous.
Nevertheless, there seems to be no ambiguity in the science: an increase in temperature causes an increase in water in the atmosphere.
An increase in the sea surface temperature combined with increased atmospheric water equals stronger tropical storms.
Another disturbing pattern in natural disasters — whether it be Houston 2017 or New Orleans 2005 — is that they disproportionately impact the poor.
Large, poor populations for a constellation of socioeconomic factors live in flood plains and tornado alleys without effective building practices to weather epic storms. Dams and other infrastructure do not receive the same allocations in poor areas and failing infrastructure is an entirely human error.
Granted, now is not the time to point fingers. Now is the time to pray for Houston.
But with seemingly more violent weather tearing at the fabric of our country from sea to shining sea, we as a nation must find the resources and resolve to minimize the devastating consequences and further protect our populace when Mother Nature is a real bitch.