, Corbin, KY

December 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy – the wake-up call

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — Levees, gates and dikes are being considered by New York and by any number of coastal cities in the world. The real culprits are me and you as agents of climate change. Our lifestyles disrupt and damages earth’s environment so seriously that devastating weather is precipitated. The overwhelming majority of environmental scientists see a direct correlation between what we are doing to the environment and what the environment is doing to us.

With the unprecedented, record-breaking 19 hurricanes of 2012, meteorologists are saying something is going on; and that “something” is us. We Americans live in the developed world spewing more CO2 (carbon dioxide) for the last 110 years than any other country. We exceed all others in burning fossil fuel (principally gasoline in our autos and coal in our industry).

All of us Americans as well as much of the world were aghast at Sandy’s incalculable devastation: 8.3 million households in 17 states without power, along with 179 deaths. The impact of this crushing force from the Atlantic is like we have never seen before.

The fire from burning our fossil fuel for all these years has infused carbon and heat to our air along with nearly erasing our protective ozone shield from damaging sun rays. All this heat evaporates more water into the air, fermenting catastrophic storms. This hotter earth is evidenced in a startling Greenland thaw and the growing popularity of our skin cancer.

Since this increase of heat is all over the world (earth), it requires an international joint commitment to abate it. However history clarifies that we humans are more inclined to disharmony than to harmonious effort, even  for our mutual welfare. Preoccupied with mutual distrust and a conviction the earth does not have adequate resources from which we can all live, militancy preoccupies the human race, propelling constant  greed.

Perhaps the pressing need for fossil fuel tops the list for fueling world militancy. Instead of collaborating to find its alternatives, many seek to maintain the need for oil and coal in order to maintain its revenue and profits. Would it not be wonderful if God and his people of the world were to be loved more than money?

So it is that the progress for rescuing us from global warming is sluggish and half-hearted. And so it is that we must continue to brace ourselves for the ravages of an abused and outraged environment.

“Help us, O God our Savior… deliver us and forgive us our sins.” [Psalm 79:9]  

Electing to sleep through Sandy’s wake-up call promises Sandy’s return.

The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology.