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Danger grows as fissures spew lava bombs

Fissures in the ground near Kilauea volcano in Hawaii have started spewing lava bombs and damaging homes in the region. CNN's Scott McLean reports.

Posted: May 23, 2018 12:40 PM
Updated: May 23, 2018 12:40 PM

Lava exploding as it pours into the sea. Cars engulfed in a molten torrent. Steam billowing, cloud-like, as inner Earth meets ocean.

There is something mesmerizing about the sheer power of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, magnificent and malevolent all at once, a reminder that for all of our modern-day progress, nature possesses vast powers we cannot tame. Around the world, but especially in the United States, people are watching, rapt.

It's almost a relief, this showing of natural fury. Oddly, it touches a different but equally cathartic point as last weekend's royal wedding, another much-needed opportunity to turn away from the social and political chaos inundating our news feeds.

As Harry and Meghan wed, we marveled at the touching and decorous show of genuine love, of African-American traditions blending into the stodgiest of British ones -- a biracial American divorcee marrying a real-life prince; a promise that progress does happen and the world does change for the better.

Kilauea is not a show of love, for sure. But it is equally awe-inspiring. And it's a necessary reminder that despite incredible human advances, we are very tiny, insignificant and, ultimately, existing at the pleasure of Mother Nature.

There is a kind of psychic salve in this. As we spend our days clicking from political scandal to mass tragedy back to political scandal, creating temporary diversions with online quizzes and social media scrolling, there is something transfixing about the heavy, steady creep of lava.

In our hyper-anxious world, we try to control all that's around us -- we sweat if our phone chimes with a text and we can't immediately look; we curate Instagram and Facebook feeds to present an image of ourselves that is #authentic but in reality filtered and Facetuned; some of the richest men in America spend their billions trying to live forever.

At the same time, those of us who are paying attention are starting get a fuller picture of just how much this control is an illusion, with powerful tech companies increasingly in charge of the news and information we consume (even if we think we're choosing with our clicks), and our current political reality laying bare just how fragile American democracy might be.

Lava rolling into the ocean, obliterating everything it passes, sending toxic spume into the air, is cataclysmic -- a feral threat emerging from the inner belly of Earth. It is oddly unifying, sparing nothing and no one in its path. It's in charge.

We sometimes think much of what happens in the world is out of our hands, that it's up to God, or that the answer is prayer, or that what will be will be, or that everything happens for a reason. Usually, this isn't true. The truth is political policy shapes the way we experience the world every day -- everything from crime to addiction to economic mobility to physical health to the environment.

For many of us, anxiety comes from knowing things could be different. We worry that we lack control over a disastrous political situation, and are hoping that someone competent is steering this ship -- and increasingly seeing that they are not.

With our smartphones and laptops shaping so much of our lives, we have long assumed that the people and institutions directing our connections with each other are benevolent figures who simply offer us greater choice. We are increasingly seeing that they are not, and that we do not fully grasp the scope of what our technological age has wrought.

Kilauea doesn't care.

It lets us turn our attention to an indiscriminate force that we can do nothing about. Except watch (and close geothermal power plants), staring in awe at this mighty force of nature breaking through the surface of the world we share. In today's America, it's a curiously comforting respite.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 450762

Reported Deaths: 6079
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin935111486
Ramsey40220742
Dakota33243348
Anoka31118366
Washington20282231
Stearns17957188
St. Louis13777244
Scott1203597
Wright11688106
Olmsted1062075
Sherburne823966
Carver698338
Clay654681
Rice613969
Kandiyohi555772
Blue Earth544833
Crow Wing486877
Otter Tail459367
Chisago455036
Benton421587
Winona391948
Douglas376666
Nobles372446
Mower369429
Goodhue351259
Polk330059
McLeod326546
Beltrami313248
Morrison312945
Lyon303338
Becker286939
Itasca285943
Isanti283241
Carlton282243
Steele275810
Pine267814
Freeborn249523
Todd232530
Nicollet226437
Brown215834
Mille Lacs214745
Le Sueur211716
Cass208424
Meeker200633
Waseca190716
Wabasha17293
Martin171326
Roseau166117
Hubbard149938
Redwood140627
Houston139014
Renville137840
Dodge13624
Chippewa131732
Cottonwood127818
Fillmore12535
Wadena120417
Rock110612
Sibley10897
Aitkin108533
Faribault107416
Watonwan10678
Pennington100315
Kanabec98018
Pipestone95523
Yellow Medicine93916
Murray8995
Jackson86310
Swift83818
Pope7425
Marshall70315
Stevens7038
Clearwater68614
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake65615
Wilkin6299
Koochiching59910
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43968
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4137
Kittson37220
Red Lake3184
Traverse2553
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308737

Reported Deaths: 4391
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46313460
Linn17916278
Scott15694167
Black Hawk13964242
Woodbury13064179
Johnson1220051
Dubuque11504157
Pottawattamie9086114
Dallas901872
Story875536
Webster470677
Cerro Gordo469972
Sioux458757
Clinton455065
Warren452039
Marshall429262
Buena Vista395230
Muscatine393078
Des Moines389243
Plymouth352269
Wapello347598
Jasper328559
Lee321132
Marion307252
Jones272949
Henry265831
Carroll257434
Bremer248048
Crawford233124
Washington221333
Boone221017
Benton210950
Mahaska196337
Jackson193931
Tama189559
Dickinson188129
Kossuth177744
Delaware174736
Clay170721
Wright166024
Fayette164123
Buchanan161023
Hamilton161030
Winneshiek159120
Harrison157362
Hardin156130
Cedar154419
Clayton153049
Butler149824
Page145415
Floyd140536
Cherokee139527
Mills138016
Lyon137033
Poweshiek134124
Hancock130824
Allamakee130029
Iowa126722
Calhoun12309
Grundy121927
Jefferson121625
Madison12169
Winnebago120829
Mitchell116436
Louisa115530
Cass114743
Chickasaw113312
Appanoose111540
Emmet111232
Sac111215
Union110223
Humboldt105819
Shelby104027
Guthrie103624
Franklin103118
Unassigned10000
Palo Alto91411
Montgomery87224
Keokuk85826
Howard84819
Monroe81419
Clarke8017
Pocahontas77811
Ida75430
Davis69721
Greene6977
Adair69320
Lucas6619
Monona65017
Osceola64510
Worth6154
Taylor5969
Fremont5206
Van Buren49914
Decatur4944
Ringgold44611
Audubon4188
Wayne41721
Adams2983
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