It is an indication of our subsidiarity in these things that despite technological advances the art form of our age —film — struggles to capture nature at its most violent and destructive.
Even the most inventive filmmakers have not produced footage as frightening as the amateur coverage of the June 2011 tsunami that swept over parts of Japan leaving 28,000 people dead or missing.
Volume and image can be replicated but nature’s raw power and the sense of being overwhelmed by a force far, far greater than yourself are not so easily contrived.
There have been many occasions when a raw, hard, and threatening environment takes a lead role and is the driving engine behind an unfolding film narrative.
The Revenant and Wind River are recent examples, Ice Cold in Alex and John Ford’s 1940 masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath are earlier ones.
In an Irish context, the controversial 1934 Man of Aran falls into this category.
The film won the Mussolini Cup at the second Venice film festival but the filmmaker Robert Flaherty later regretted putting islanders, none of whom could swim and all of whom were forced to speak English for the film, in jeopardy so he could film dramatic but inaccurate versions of their lives.
The centrality of environment — or, as tourisminterests might put it, beautiful scenery — in film, was the reason David Lean filmed scenes for Ryan’s Daughter at Noordhoek Beach near Cape Town in South Africa.
One film was based on Sebastian Junger’s story of a trawler lost at sea after two 1991 storms of historic proportions besieged America’s East Coast. They came together and were called The Perfect Storm — as was the film.
It was“perfect” because it was an optimally destructive confluence of a strengthening non-tropical low off Canada and a former hurricane, strong high pressure over eastern Canada and the eastern US, then a bizarre transition to another hurricane.
Over recent days Ireland has felt the impact of two extreme weather events, now we face their legacy — floods if snow melts quickly.
Unprecedented warnings were issued but, at the time of writing, they achieved their objective. No lives have been lost and hopefully, that will remain the case.
The historic and justified decision not to publish this newspaper or its sister paper yesterday must be seen in that duty-of-care context. Thankfully, most employers chose not to put their staff in jeopardy.
Dramatic weather events like this are uncommon here so we are not be as well equipped as we might be to deal with them — as scoffing tourists more used to snow confirmed.
That, however, may no longer be the take-home lesson from these regular enough wake-up calls.
We struggle to cope with weather that will pass almost as quickly as it came but how would we cope with an altered, permanently more hostile climate? The kind of one predicted by climate change scientists?
The near-chaos of recent days would be a very small price to pay if it finally shook us out of our dangerous complacency on the consequences of looming and profound climate change.
And unless we act quickly we won’t have to go to the cinema to experience it.