Back in 1986, I was working as a radio news reporter for a Cheyenne, Wyoming, radio station. One evening in the middle of that summer, an enormous column of dark clouds formed above the city and let loose a torrent of hail and rain (about 12 inches in 3 hours!) that became known as the “Cheyenne flood.” Twelve people lost their lives in the raging waters, and lots of physical damage was done.
But as unfortunate as this event was for the city, there were a few positives. For me personally, not that it really mattered, considering the loss of life, I was interviewed on nationwide ABC radio and received a large stringer fee. But the real and lasting benefit was that it brought the people of Cheyenne together in a way that they had never experienced before. Neighbor was helping neighbor and hearts opened up in a wave of altruism that engulfed the city.
Could something similar happen with respect to the event known as “climate change” or “global warming”? This challenge affects everyone on Earth: Christian, Muslim, atheist, American, Russian, Bolivian, Tibetan, liberal, conservative, anarchist—every shade of religion, politics, ethnicity and culture. In order to meet the challenge and avoid a potentially catastrophic impact on our beloved planet Earth, people of every persuasion and country will need to come together in an unprecedented global convergence.
The peril posed by global warming is very real, notwithstanding the insistence by a multitude of climate-change deniers, including the current U.S. president and administration, that it is all a hoax. Scientific observations make it clear that ocean temperatures are rising, recent years have been the hottest in recorded history, ice particularly in the Arctic is rapidly melting and the rising ocean waters are eroding beaches and islands all over the globe.
Yet the Trump administration has elected to ignore this information and stifle the efforts of scientists who report it. It has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, supported the carbon dioxide-emitting coal industry and continued to do everything it can to encourage the use of fossil fuels. “Jobs, jobs, jobs. We have to preserve jobs and the economy, at all costs.” Yes, and the ultimate cost may be humanity itself. What good is a job if the planet is uninhabitable?
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, a flaming climate-change denier, has said that “the left” and others who acknowledge climate change have “weaponized the weather.” He denies any relationship between human action and the weather, and claims that no matter what we do, it has absolutely no impact on the climate of the Earth. We could burn down the entire Amazon Rainforest without affecting global weather! Limbaugh frequently claims to have “talent on loan from God.” If this is so, to me it suggests that even God can make a bad loan!
I find such colossal ignorance of the intimate relationship between human beings and the weather (and to all of nature) to be appalling. We are one with the Earth; the Earth was created out of us and not the other way around. Consequently, we are responsible for the Earth, and in fact, the climate of the Earth is a direct reflection of the climate in human consciousness. Or, to paraphrase the Beatles, “The weather we take is the weather we make.”
Fortunately, a growing number of people worldwide, particularly young people, are responding to the need for climate action. Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg is traveling the world with an impassioned plea to “do something!” “What kind of a world are you leaving us?” she implores.
And there is an organization called Extinction Rebellion described by Wikipedia as “a nonviolent global environmental movement with the stated aim of using civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.” This is just one of many groups formed to oppose climate inaction.
Human beings were created “to dress and keep the garden,” i.e., the Earth. This meticulous care includes the external environment—trees, bushes, plants, grass, land animals, fish, birds, soil, air, water—but even more importantly the internal environment, i.e., the consciousness of human beings, from which everything else ultimately springs.
But in their deplorable state of disconnection from the creative process of life, spiritually demented human beings have turned what was created to be “a house of prayer” into a “den of thieves,” plundering, pillaging, profaning and essentially raping the Earth, all to satisfy human wants and desires. I can almost hear God (or however you describe who or what created this planet) saying, “I’ve had enough! It is time to clear the Earth of this abomination.”
“The Earth is reserved unto fire.” These words from Second Peter 3:7 describe what could happen on Earth in a modern-day replica of The Flood, a time when human beings out of alignment with the laws of life were removed from the Earth. At that time, the destructive force was water and only a few survived (depicted in the mythical story of Noah and the Ark).
In our day, the destructive and purgative agent could well be fire. Fire is ironically a symbol of love, the elemental force that created and sustains everything in the cosmos. But if love is twisted and distorted into something alien to its true nature, it becomes a destructive force. And this is exactly what human beings have done, and they are now reaping the consequences in the form of global warming, which could well develop into global conflagration.
“The Earth is reserved unto fire.” This fire could be creative or destructive depending on the choices we make. In their extremity the residents of Cheyenne realized that religious beliefs, cultural traditions, ethnic identities and political loyalties didn’t mean anything anymore. All the things that ordinarily divide people and create conflict were set aside in favor of oneness, a beautiful coming together in a momentary recapture of the truth of love.
I don’t think it’s too late for a similar choice to be made by the whole body of humanity. The existential threat posed by global warming may bring people of all religions, cultures and countries together in a unified purpose and even begin to transform human consciousness in such a way that planetary weather begins to reflect the truth of love rather than its distortion. Unification or extinction? The choice is ours.
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