I write this on Sunday afternoon, within hours of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, which is expected to have a devastating human and economic cost. The headlines, on and off-line, are filled with the usual stories about advanced precautions, accompanied by the usual pictures of those precautions being taken (windows being bordered up, lines of vehicles headed inland, rapidly emptying store shelves, and so on). All of the focus, understandably, is on the immediate danger, as well as our inability to know the exact extent to which we are in harm's way.
I, too, share the concern for the immediate danger. At the same time, I am more than astonished--and, frankly, disgusted--about the fact that no one seems to want to connect the climate dots.
Until a decade or so ago, we were accustomed to being occasionally visited by powerful storms, and to cleaning up the aftermath and moving on. We accepted this as part of nature's status quo. But there is nothing "occasional" about these storms anymore, nor are weather extremes in general extremes anymore. For all practical purposes, they are the "new normal." Except for the fact that they are exponentially more dangerous and costly for all of us than they have even been.
And, in spite of that, we go on pretending that we can just keep cleaning up the mess, even when the messes get bigger and bigger.
We pretend that, as a species, we are so frail and helpless that we cannot control our behavior, and must rely on God to sort things out, to ensure that the wicked are punished and the righteous are protected. Anything else somehow smacks of socialism.
That overlooks the fact that government, in both the Old and New Testaments, is an institution established and even ordained by God. It overlooks the fact that the Constitution was established to ensure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare. And, in the context of our climate, it grossly overlooks the fact that we have a serious problem, and it will take government of the people, by the people and for the people to set it right. Government is the only segment of society capable of taking the long-term interest of everyone into account. And, right now, whether it is Sandy or the next storm not yet on the horizon, government that thinks beyond the next fifteen minutes is needed more than ever.
It is, therefore, more than shameful that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have even talked about climate change in their debates, or otherwise in their campaigns. There has never been a greater need to talk about it. Because Mother Nature is speaking very loudly, and we need to start listening.
It may take getting past our pioneer mentality, with its myth of a limitless wilderness, as David Attenborough has suggested. Or, as he also suggests, it may take disaster.
But, for the sake of the human race, and its Creator, let it be SOMETHING.