Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Friday, September 9, 2011

On Earth as it is in Hell

The sign in the middle of an Austin intersection said it all:  “Satan Called.  He wants his weather back.”

Yes, Texans have been suffering, and some perhaps are praying that the Devil would go back to hell with his fires, drought, and blistering heat.  They’re not alone, are they? Virtually everywhere, we are dealing with increasingly extreme weather, and it’s costing us heavily. But Texas is a special case.

Sign in Austin, TX street
How bad is it?  The statistics are numbing.  How fast can you bake cookies on a car dashboard in Waco?  How many consecutive days over 100 in the state?  How many billions in farm drought losses? How many counties declared disaster areas by the USDA?  How many cattle starved or destroyed? How many Texas wildfires visible from the International Space Station? How many hundreds of Texas homes destroyed by fire?

The answers are discouraging.  213 counties (almost all of them) are USDA disasters.  Forty-one straight days saw 100 plus heat.  $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, and counting. Texas wildfires this year have burned an area the size of Connecticut.  Since last Sunday, 1,626 homes have been destroyed in one Texas county alone. 
But maybe it’ll better better tomorrow, right?  Um, wrong.  Texas’ State Climatologist tells us it will likely be worse next year.  “I’ve started telling anyone who’s interested,” says Texas A&M’s  John Nielsen-Gammon, “ that it’s likely that much of Texas will still be in severe drought this time next summer, with water supply implications even worse than those we are now experiencing.”

135 years of TX heat/rainfall records: 2011 is the runaway winner (loser?)
Not everyone is interested, as Texas’ governor reminds us in his speeches.  But how long will he be able to ignore the scientists?  Not long, because there’s a word for drought that lasts multiple years: Dust Bowl.  In fact, “dust-bowl-ification” has become standard lingo among climatologists.

And if you think Texas scientists are simply wallowing in pessimism, I’ve got sobering news.  Research by scientists at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now tells us that we can’t reverse these weather effects of green house gas concentrations for more than 1,000 years.

There's no soil moisture left to create rains or slow fires
“Our study convinced us that current choices regarding carbon dioxide emissions will have legacies that will irreversibly change the planet,” said NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon.  The result will be persistent and irreversible weather that is “comparable to the 1930s North American Dust Bowl in .. southwestern North America.”  That means Texas, among others.

And there’s a word for a Dust Bowl that stays around for 1,000 years:  Desert.

In case this hasn’t sunk in, 1,000 years is about 50 generations.  Fifty!  Name one terrible thing you can do today that your descendents will still be suffering for in fifty generations.  Not that easy, is it?

As you know, many of us pray this prayer every day: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  What a shock to look up from our prayer and find that our super-sized Western lifestyle has contributed to the conditions for hell on earth for us and for our distant descendants?

Is it too late to give Satan his weather back?  For the sake of countless generations to come, we must find an answer to that question. And perhaps we might rethink our prayer for God’s will on earth, as it is in heaven.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

J. Elwood

‘Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honored; May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day the bread we need, Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us. Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil.’   Jesus' prayer, from Matthew 6

More Images from Texas drought

Blackened skies over Texas, burnt homes
Drop the garden hose and run
Fenced livestock can't escape

Measures of soil dryness at top of scale for almost every Texas county

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