Last night there was a report on the national news about the climate changes we experienced in 2012. Last year is now on record as the warmest year ever recorded and the list of weather-related disasters our nation also experienced was disturbing and discouraging. We are still in the middle of one of the most devastating- the drought that encompasses at least five states. And our local news reported that Oklahoma is also experiencing an increase in the number of earthquakes.
Bigger and more frequent disasters and more resultant deaths may become our new “normal”. And unfortunately many of the disasters are our own fault. Just by being where we are in such large groups puts us in harm’s way. We sometimes flaunt our misconceptions about our ability to control nature, but in truth it is merely a matter of time before we are proven wrong. We live in known flood paths. We grow crops in areas that were once barren deserts. We build homes in remote wooded wilderness areas or perch them precariously on the sides of canyons. We pack millions of people into one zip code. And then we are shocked and dismayed when something bad happens as a result. I guess we just forget that every action in life has a consequence.
It is also our nature to focus on the “task at hand” and that often means we keep our minds on the troubles at hand as well. We can get so involved in our own lives and families and communities that it sometimes takes a major disaster or tragedy to make us aware of what is happening in the rest of the country. Big numbers like those quoted last night can certainly broaden our limited perspective and let us know that we are all affected by what happens when the wind blows across the plains or the snow falls in the east.
As I listened to the disheartened Texas farmer despair over his meager rice crop I suddenly realized that his loss is our loss. We will pay more for rice and many, many other foods in the coming months because of the drought. I’ve already written about how it will affect milk and meat prices, but I had not given much thought to rice because I had forgotten that it is a major crop in south Texas.
I’m not sure what our reaction should be to all of this except to be aware that many of the things we take for granted are drastically changing. Right now there is a town near us that has been totally out of water for days and is desperately trying to solve their shortage problem. Imagine your whole town out of water! My first reaction was to take a quicker shower. My next was to stock up on bottled water- and yes, I know that also causes problems.
Each of us needs to rethink some of the environmental issues of our country. I’ve never been a big supporter of the whole “green” movement, but even I realize now that much of what we did when I was a child, and even as a younger adult, was much more “earth friendly” than our current lifestyle. Somehow we need to return to some of our better habits. We have to join together to improve our impact on the earth and do what we can to cope with the new normal we have helped to create.
Each of us needs to be aware that weather changes affect us as an entire nation in physical, emotional, and economic ways that will have repercussions for generations to come. If that Texas rice farmer ceases operations it will impact his family, the families of his employees, and the residents of his entire community. And that community includes us!