Here in the greater DC area, once again we are awaiting the arrival of a huge, unusually powerful, and potentially dangerous storm, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. Weather forecasters are having a field day issuing warnings, describing the possible damaging effects (high winds, heavy rains, floods, downed trees, power outages), and advising us to take precautions and stock up on gas, food, and water.
No doubt it's a good thing that science is able to tell us well in advance when a big storm is approaching. Ultimately, forewarning reduces damage, saves lives, enables certain events to be called off -- for example, a couple of political campaign rallies have already been cancelled (AWW), but not the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday.
At the same time, I think forecasting and preparation really can be overdone. The constant drumbeat of predictions, warnings, and alarms simply adds to the level of tension and constant noise in our modern lives without truly adding much to our well-being. For example, my wife and I did our routine grocery shopping this morning - the local farmers' market and a supermarket - and found stores packed at 7:00 AM, people racing around snapping up basics like water, milk, and bread (of which items shelves were already mostly empty). Maybe they'll go home from there and sandbag their basement door, if it lies low, or tape their windows - who knows?
But the storm isn't supposed to be here until Sunday around midday. Meanwhile, today is as beautiful a fall day as anyone could wish for, with not the least sign a storm is in the offing. It's an excellent day for being out enjoying the fresh air. It's enough to know a storm is coming, and when, but it's better not to get so wrapped up in taking precautions against something we can't prevent that we miss the forest and the trees.