Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Outlook for Dallas is Sunny …

Today, 109 and sunny.  Tomorrow, 106 and sunny.  Monday, 106 and sunny. Tuesday, 109 and sunny. And Wednesday, 108 and … well, you know.
Those are numbers 36 through 40 of the ongoing string of days above 100 degrees.  Chance of rain is zero.

I am praying for Dallas, and for the rest of Texas.  I am praying for the poor, who cannot afford air conditioning and electric bills.  I am praying for roofers, sweltering on burning rooftops.  I am praying for farm workers, thrown out of work by the drought that the U.S. Drought Monitor calls “disastrous.”

But I am not praying for rain and cool weather.

That would be like drinking a six-pack, and then praying not to have a hangover.

There is no point in conducting ourselves in ways that force nature to respond with increasingly extreme weather on everyone, and then praying for relief – for us – from that same weather, without changing our conduct.  Of course, there is blame to go around for the damage done to God’s earth by the carbon binge our country has been leading for many decades.  Texas is not unique in its conduct.  But the most unjust outcome would be for Texas and the U.S.  to find relief, while the global climate catastrophe strikes the world’s most vulnerable.  Here’s why:

The average American emits 17.5 tons of climate-warming CO2 per year.  That’s as much as two Britons, three Swiss, four Mexicans, five Turks or seven Brazilians.   Texans are probably, on average, greater greenhouse gas polluters than the average American, but it would be splitting hairs to try to prove that point.  But for whatever reason, Texas has sent to Congress politicians deeply committed to maintaining our oil & coal carbon orgy.  The Texas congressional delegation always votes against environmental protection when it comes to climate change.

Meanwhile, it takes 19 Pakistanis to generate as much global warming pollution as one American.  But Pakistan’s very survival is fundamentally challenged by the melting of glaciers that serve as its only source of water for drinking or irrigation.  And it takes 55 Pacific islanders on Kiribati to equal one American in carbon pollution, but the Kiribati homeland is already being abandoned in the face of rising sea levels from warming oceans and polar ice melt.

Sadly, it’s impossible to meaningfully care for the people of those two countries –and billions of others similarly exposed – while American oil-state politicians continue to suppress and ignore the warnings of climate science.

2011 Texas  drought: The worst in 114 years of measurement
That’s why I’m not praying for rain in Texas.  Here’s how I’m praying: 

Father of Mercy, give us the humility to listen to wisdom, including the findings of wise researchers.  Defender of the Poor, give us the grace to bear the consequences of our own conduct, if your most vulnerable children must also bear them.  Friend of Sinners, grant us the repentance and simplicity to reorder our lives to restore and heal an injured world. Lover of Children, give us hearts to care for the world we are leaving your little ones, even if it means we must change our lifestyles today. Redeemer of Mankind, awaken our hearts to care for the powerless, the poor, the migrant, and the fatherless, even if it costs us dearly.  In the name of Him who became poor, that we might become rich.  Amen.
Oh, and while we're praying, we might just ask for the wisdom to think carefully who we’re sending to the world’s most powerful government as our representatives.

Thanks for reading, and may God show us all His mercy.

J. Elwood

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