'Unprecedented crisis' 

Warmer air holds more water vapor than cold air. Periods of high temperatures will last longer. Heavy rains and floods will become more extreme.

Consider the following: —The size and scope of the current heat wave is unprecedented in modern times.

—The year 2011 has produced more tornadoes and extreme weather events than any year on record.

—Massive flooding has swept over numerous states and several major countries over the past 12 months Since its inception, religion has sought to explain things that seem inexplicable. Mystery and the unknown seem to be built into the very fabric of life.

One such source of mystery is the weather. We often attribute the power to control weather exclusively to the divine. Especially in Oklahoma, no one has ever been able to predict, much less control, weather with any great degree of accuracy. So Gov. Mary Fallin has us praying for rain. Insurance companies describe catastrophic weather events as “acts of God”: events that seem arbitrary, unavoidable and beyond control.

A funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century: Human beings began to affect earth processes like never before. Human activity now has a tremendous influence on the earth’s natural systems, including crazy weather. It is as if the Spaceship Earth has been on automatic pilot for several hundred thousand years and now we are in control and we don’t know how it all works.

There are many small steps that ordinary people can take to combat climate change and protect the planet for future generations. Apart from prayer, our current predicament will require lots of personal and policy changes if we are to respond in a timely manner to what is becoming an unprecedented crisis.

— James Stovall
Oklahoma City

Stovall is director of the Mediation Institute and serves on the steering committee for Transition OKC.

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James Stovall

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