In ancient times, blood moons were looked upon in many different ways, depending on the culture of the people. The ancient Inca, for example, believed that during a lunar eclipse, the moon was being attacked by a jaguar. That’s why the moon appeared to turn a blood-red.
If something happened that they didn't understand, people would come up with stories to explain these celestial phenomenon. Even natural disasters were explained using stories and were thought to occur because of a displeased god or goddess. Today, we’re pretty sure a jaguar in the sky has nothing to do with the lunar eclipse or the moon turning red. In fact, a lunar eclipse – and the resulting blood moon – can be explained by science. And so can all the other natural disasters we see happening around us.
The way a blood moon happens is this. The sun casts her light at the earth, which then in turn gives Earth a shadow that extends far into space. Normally, we would have no idea, because outer space is dark, shadows are dark…we’d just never see it! But when the moon passes behind the earth – and therefore into the earth’s shadow – we can see the moon start to darken. This is a lunar eclipse, and is quite common.
The red color comes from the earth’s atmosphere. According to space.com, “sunlight is scattered by passing through Earth’s atmosphere, [and] the other colors of the spectrum are removed.” But the moon has to be in the right place at the right time for this effect to happen, which is why it’s rare to have a full, blood-moon eclipse.
So that pretty much debunks the ghost jaguar in the sky myth (although it’s still a fun story).
A lunar eclipse isn’t the only scientific event we face on Earth. Disasters happen all the time, and each one happens for a reason. The difference between blood moon science and other disasters is that natural disasters are a physical danger. The blood moon, while it is theorized that it will bring about disasters, cannot hurt us in and of itself. Hurricanes come about by warm, moist air, and wind, and progress from there according to laws of nature. Earthquakes occur due to the release of energy in the Earth’s crust, which then creates seismic waves. Floods can take over the land because – among other reasons – the ground is already fully saturated and rain water has nowhere else to go.
The list goes on, and the scientific reasoning behind it does, too. We live in a world bound by rules, and we know they are. At least, there are people who do (ie. scientists) and they let us know what to watch for. When we talk about preparedness, we do it from a standpoint that we know something is going to happen. The only thing difficult to predict is when.
PBS recently interviewed Judith Rodin, president of the Rockerfeller Foundation, about what it means to be resilient in the face of disaster. One of the first things she said was that no matter what the emergency – disaster, health scare, cyber-attack, financial crisis, etc. – “communities and institutions bounce back only if they can prepare for the unpredictable.”
Being prepared for the unpredictable - whether it’s a disaster, economic crisis, or a blood moon - means being prepared now. Rodin spoke about how we focus on disaster relief, which, of course, is a good thing. However, she fears we just aren’t very focused on preparedness and readiness for disasters. According to Rodin, emergency preparedness is an investment, and this investment is something that “pays off whether or not something goes wrong. And that’s the ambition.”
So what does this mean for you? Well, it means that if you are prepared, you won’t need to fear the future. It means that if a hurricane or tornado blows through your neighborhood, you will have the resources to “bounce back.” It means that if the blood moon ushers in devastation and destruction, you’ll be prepared to take the calamities of the earth in stride.
It also means that if none of those things happen, then you’ll still be ready for the next major event, because one most certainly will come.
In the end, emergency preparedness is more than just avoiding catastrophe – that will happen no matter what. Instead, being prepared and being resilient “is learning how to fail safely, and not catastrophically, whether you’re a person or a city or a business.”
We don’t have to be afraid of disasters, celestial events, and other happenings. We know what causes them, and we know how to prepare. It’s hard not to be effected by disaster, but we can at least lessen the damage done when one does come, as well as build back better, faster, and more effectively once it passes.
How are you preparing for disaster, the blood moon, and other events? Let us know in the comments below!