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Armageddon? In wake of so many disasters, one can't help but wonder

February 12, 2009 |  9:24 am

A fire truck races from a blaze in Victoria, Australia.

It feels like Armageddon.

Part of Australia becomes a raging inferno, killing more than 180 people and perhaps millions of animals, and elsewhere Down Under, floods have forced people from their homes and into watery streets they now share with crocodiles.

Costa Rica is still reeling from an earthquake and subsequent landslides last month, which killed more than two dozen people and left hundreds homeless.

In parts of the continental United States, ice storms and tornadoes in the last two weeks have caused death and destruction.

Meanwhile in Alaska, a volcano near the Cook Inlet appears ready to blow its top and threatens to rain smoke and ash over much of the Pacific Northwest.

All of this -- plus a good deal more, I'm sure -- at a time when the economy, thanks to years of corporate greed and consumer naivete, has tumbled into an abyss so deep and gooey it might not climb out for years.

Reaction: What is the cause of all this? Can anyone age 50 or younger recall a more depressing or frightening time on this planet? Are all of these disasters some karmic response to man's blight-like existence on earth, or pure coincidence?

On the bright side, in Southern California anyway, there are wilderness parks, an ocean, a desert and  snow-covered mountains in which to seek refuge.

And there are scenes such as that below, which take your breath away and make you feel all is right in this world.

Skiers ride chair after a recent storm in the Big Bear area.

But then you return home, turn on the news or flip through a newspaper, and find that it's not. Stocks are down again -- the Dow is down 143 as I type.

Birds are having to alter migration patters because of global warming. Polar bears are a day closer to extinction and so on....

Armageddon? Perhaps not. But it is ill wind through which mankind is currently sailing, and here's hoping like mad that it subsides sooner rather than later.

-- Pete Thomas

Photos, from top: A firetruck races from a blaze in Victoria, Australia. Credit: Alex Coppel / News Limited. Skiers ride chair after a recent storm in the Big Bear area. Credit: Big Bear Resort Assn.