One of my daughter, Gayley’s, and my favorite movies is “Armageddon,” a B-grade thriller that is exciting, funny, romantic and completely trite. Its plot centers on the desperate efforts to save the world from a huge asteroid heading right for us. Pieces have already bombarded New York, and other bits will wipe out Paris and Shanghai. NASA decides that the only hope is to detonate a nuclear weapon deep in the asteroid, and the only folks who can get up there and bury the bomb are a bunch of tough, freehearted oil drillers led by Bruce Willis. After a series of zany episodes and dramatic mishaps, the team manages to get the bomb in place, only to learn that someone must stay behind to detonate it manually. Ben Affleck draws the short straw, but Willis tricks him into leaving so he can go home and marry Liv Tyler, Willis’ beautiful daughter.
The unfortunate message from the film is that it takes the combined efforts of a nuclear bomb and the world’s best deep-sea oil-drilling team to save the earth.
I thought of “Armageddon” as I followed Sandy’s path along the eastern seaboard – about how this storm seemed to thumb her nose at our efforts to dominate nature, and about how two of the biggest threats to our own annihilation are nuclear proliferation and our frantic search for fossil fuels . . . and that exactly 50 years ago in Silent Spring, as a historian recently wrote, Rachel Carson warned “that efforts to control nature threatened man’s survival.”