The China Post
By Alan Fong–On Friday, May 18, Ralf Dujmovits descended Mount Everest after deciding against continuing due to bad weather conditions at the summit. On his way down, the famous German mountaineer — and the 16th verified person to climb all the 14 mountains over 8,000 meters above sea level — crossed a road with a long line of climbers heading the opposite direction. There were so many of them that it was practically a human traffic jam on the Himalayas.
Dujmovits was shocked and saddened by the scene of many unfit people scaling the mountain at an unfit time. He strongly doubted that all those in the line would make it back. In fact, four people were killed on the mountain that weekend.
“People nowadays treat the mountain as if it was a piece of sporting apparatus, not a force of nature,” explained Dujmovits in an interview with the Guardian.
Examples of human arrogance and ignorance toward nature can be found closer to home in every typhoon season. On Monday, Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) found himself urging some 100 climbers who refused to turn back before Tropical Storm Talim hit Taiwan and would rather find shelter on the mountains. Lee resorted to strongly worded warnings that rescue helicopters might not be able to reach climbers in the storm and that the stranded would have to cover their own rescue expenses. Even then, 22 climbers had still chosen to stay as of yesterday noon. Meanwhile, the curious wave watchers and recreational fishermen crossing typhoon safety lines at seashores popped up again on TV news reports as predictable as the very rain itself.
In defying repeated safety warnings, people manifest a recklessness that could cost them their lives as well as others. Those who refused to leave the mountains because it’s against their schedules arrogantly treated nature as an item to fit into their agenda. Those who stay because they believed it is alright to face a storm in the wild are mountain tourists unable to grasp the power of nature. As for the typhoon wave watchers and fishermen, who either believed they are typhoon-proof or that a speculator splash of water or great catch was worth risking their lives and the lives of their rescuers for, are simply idiotic.
Nature is not a mere scenic area, a “sporting apparatus,” or a sequence of orderly predictable events like in a TV show. Lives can be saved when people learn to be humble to nature. Lives can be saved when people can accept the inconvenience, curb their curiosity, and make typhoon preparation a mission for all.