No snow drifts
No wind bites
No ice glistens
But fog rises
Sky weighs down.
Me? I drown.
Here’s the upcoming weather forecast for Millersburg, OH: rainstorms from Thursday to Saturday night. A flood warning. Possible thunderstorms. In January. A high of 67 degrees Fahrenheit for Saturday.
This forecast terrifies me. It makes me want to scream, not as loudly as people in Australia are screaming now, as their country burns. But I still want to scream, because the cause is the same.
What is wrong with the world? Why are the words climate change not on everyone’s lips? Why are even the liberal politicians saying and doing nothing?
I’ve been afraid of climate change for 14 years, ever since I read about its effects in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (a dystopic novel). And yet I’ve kept silent about it all that time, not out of complacency or skepticism, but out of shyness. Out of being an introvert. Out of not knowing what to say. I don’t even have a tenth of Greta Thunberg’s courage at age 32 (and I’m damn sure I didn’t have it at age 16), but I wish I did. More importantly, I wish I had the words to tell people, in the very heart of rural, conservative Ohio, about the impending disaster.
In the Bible, there are numerous examples of prophets eating scrolls. The prophets, including Jeremiah and Ezekiel, have visions in which God or an angel gives them a scroll to eat. When they eat it, they know exactly the right words to say, to warn the Israelites that God is displeased with them and that if they don’t shape up, disaster is about to strike. It’s symbolic of God putting words in their mouths.
With more terrifying disasters about to strike, God has not put words in my mouth. Granted, I’m not a prophet, but I can still predict the future if we do nothing. Anyone who knows anything about climate change can predict the future.
But where are the words in our mouths? Where are our scrolls?
God, please feed me a scroll. Please give shy, timid me the words to warn people about climate change.
…and I so much wish I didn’t.
I was at work. And some days, I get satisfaction out of my job, but I wasn’t satisfied on Friday. I felt that whatever I was doing wasn’t nearly as important as showing my support for the climate. I wanted to be on the campus of the College of Wooster, marching and shouting, getting rid of my nervous energy, trying to get our out-of-touch leaders to understand that yes, climate change is real. Yes, the world is in danger. Yes, we want you to do something.
For all that I work in Environmental Health, there isn’t much done at work about the greatest environmental crisis of our time. Granted, my particular job doesn’t tie directly to climate change. But why don’t any of our jobs? Why is there not a climate change program? Why are we not addressing the problem?
I know that it’s rural Ohio, and that we’re helpless without our cars and trucks and gasoline-powered farm equipment. I don’t have any current ideas on how to fix that. But on these hot afternoons, when the cars and trucks clog up the streets of Millersburg and seem to make the air even hotter, when you hear the horrible noise of their engines and can’t shut it out, when you just know that all that car exhaust is heating up our planet, and more and more cars just pass on the road, and it just won’t end…then you wish that the cars and trucks would magically disappear, that the problem would magically solve itself.
If I wasn’t at the Climate Strike on Friday, it wasn’t because I don’t care. It was because I don’t want to lose this job. It was because I was doing my duty. Yet I can’t help but wonder if at this point, my duty is something quite different.
What about my followers? Did any of you make it to the Climate Strike?
O, Lord in Heaven, Maker of all,
Hear all our voices, answer our call.
Whatever our sins and whatever our worth,
Rescue us all from our foundering Earth.
Open the eyes of all those who don’t feel
That the climate is changing, the crisis is real.
Give them a sense of what’s truly at stake.
Give them the knowledge, for our planet’s sake.
No longer harden our cruel leaders’ hearts
Against us and our planet. Let our rulers start
To alter old customs, to write and to pass
Laws that will truly decrease greenhouse gas.
Rescue and comfort all those feeling grief,
From storm, drought, and fire, and waves of cruel heat.
Soothe the bereaved, help to lift up the poor,
As weather grows many times worse than before.
For those who have died, come gather their souls
Close to You, Lord, in Your loving hold.
Offer them love and forgiveness and grace,
As they leave our sad world for a happier place.
If these are the End Times, O, send Christ down here,
To rescue a world that is drowning in fear.
Save all the sinless, end evil at last.
O, Lord, let our struggle be over with fast.
I know that our suffering here is our fault.
We’re wrecked Your creation, destruction we’ve wrought.
But blame should fall down on all those who have wealth,
Not the innocent victims who need the most help.
So, give us compassion and knowledge and skill
To fight climate change, or nobody will.
We beg for Your mercy and cry out in fear
Of the stormy apocalypse happening here.
The weather dictates what we do, every day. You’re always trying to stay one step ahead of it.
We don’t know what normal is anymore.
This was said by Arlyn Schipper, an Iowa farmer, in response to the increased numbers of droughts, floods, storms, and heat waves in this country. If you still have any doubt that climate change is real, ask an American farmer.