Over two thousand years ago Pompeii was reduced, over the course of a four day eruption of Mount Etna, from a wealthy city largely inhabited by upper class Roman citizens, to a wasteland of burning ash. As the eruption began, the people of Pompeii stood powerless before the force of nature and their only salvation, which was far from certain, was to attempt to flee. Today we can the view ruins of the city, and the grotesque remains of some of the unsuccessful attempts to escape, well preserved under a seven meter layer of ash.
In spite of our modern technology, it is unlikely that a modern day eruption of similar magnitude could be stopped or the lava and falling ashes could be diverted. Our only consolation is that we are now perhaps better prepared, due to our improved ability to detect immanent volcanic eruptions.
While the human race is now probably capable of inadvertently changing changing our natural environment, it still stands powerless before the force of nature.
The Christmas Letter that accompanies the card
explains the events of 2006.