Muncie, Indiana – So, how did you celebrate Earth Day? Are you celebrating Earth Week? Did you even know we were paying respects to Mother Earth? Be honest. Are you a denier or skeptic of such liberal nonsense, or are you a tree-hugger 365 days a year? There is a whole range of beliefs out there from the pro-fossil fuel crowd all the way to protesters who tie themselves to bulldozers or lay down in the woods to prevent the demolition squads from deforesting acres of land.
There is one thing for certain, unless you’ve lived in a bubble for the past several years in the Midwest, or any other part of the U.S., you have to be in awe of our new weather patterns – something instinctual should be triggered saying our weather is changing, regardless of why it is changing.
According to Climate Central:
Heat waves are longer and hotter than they used to be and some regions are suffering from catastrophic drought. Heavy rains are more frequent and can be more intense, and rainfall records have been smashed. These events fit a pattern that climate scientists have long-expected to appear as the result of increased greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
For example, in Muncie, the summer of 2012 involved record heat waves which crushed historical records. Droughts were so bad that crops literally wilted and dried out in the fields. In July for the Youth Triathlon, the pool temperature at Tuhey was approaching 100 degrees requiring pumping cool water into the pool to reduce the uncomfortable swimming temps.. Prairie Creek water temperature was so hot they cancelled long distance swims because a man in New York died from a heart attack while swimming in water approaching 100 degrees.
How about the summer of 2013?
Exactly the opposite. The high temperature on July 4th was 62 degrees and Tuhey Pool was closed because it wasn’t warm enough. In fact, the outdoor swimming pool was closed 11 days in July, 2013 because the temperature never broke 72 degrees. It was the coldest July on record since the late 1800’s.
You don’t have to be a climatologist to know something is amiss.
Using Climate Central’s research, the first Earth Day was celebrated back in 1970, and since that time Indiana has warmed .50F, or half a degree per decade. This rate of warming has us ranking 23rd for the fastest warming states in the United States. See the chart below for how we compare to other states.
According to the NOAA website, “The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces during March was 0.72°C (1.30°F) above the 20th century average. This marks the fourth highest for March since records began in 1880 and the highest since 2010, the last March that warm-phase El Niño conditions were present.”
So, while our March in Indiana was cold, the rest of the globe more than offset our cooler temperatures. Looking back at NOAA’s site, they reported, “Each of the major oceans had large regions that were much warmer than average, and record warmth was observed in parts of the northeastern and equatorial Pacific, the eastern North and South Atlantic, and central Indian Oceans.”
If you follow this link to the NOAA’s site, we’ve prepared a graph specifically for March temperatures in Indiana from 1895 till 2014. The last decade shows that most of the temperatures occur within ranges above the overall historical average (rolling average) which indicates an upward trend in average temperatures.
The Earth Day took on special meaning this year because of the alarming IPCC report released last month. As they stress repeatedly in their report about climate change and mans contribution to the problem, a strategy of “do-nothing” is not a good solution to our escalating global temperature problem.
According to the World Bank, “Climate change is raising the risks to food security, livelihoods, and human health, not only through the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves and extreme precipitation events but also as a result of increases in vector borne diseases whose carriers thrive under warmer conditions.”
In Indiana, we’ve experienced the “escalating fluctuations” firsthand, and we’ve just gone through one the longest, coldest, and wettest winters in recent memory. During one polar vortex, we were actually warned to not leave our houses and venture into the elements unless necessary. While some schools have added time to every school day, others implemented Saturdays, while still others like Muncie Community Schools, have extended their school days to June 13th. This not only impacts students and teachers, it has a huge impact on our local economy. Think how many summer programs are affected. If the kids are attending schools, they are not participating in other programs or vacationing where dollars are spent. Summer daycare businesses will also lose revenue during this period.
Yet, despite how our weather is negatively affecting our lives and pocketbooks, we can’t get the local news to share a day or a week of global warming news. Rarely do they delve into the economic costs. Rarely do they discuss how dirty Indiana is compared to the rest of the country and why. Rarely do they hold our state and local governments accountable. Rarely do we talk about the climate impact of development projects.
While the IPCC report was being released last month, Hoosier lawmakers became the first legislation in the United States to cut loose their own energy savings program. The lawmaker who introduced the bill had a campaign finance report which read like the who’s who of the energy industry in Indiana. Our governor who refused to veto it, is on the payroll of Duke Energy.
Here’s the catch for me, and why this all doesn’t make sense. These same lawmakers, when running for office, or speaking on television, make it a point to talk about Hoosier values and their faith in God. They even promote laws and policies based on their personal belief in God. Some advocate for creationism in our public schools because of these beliefs.
They are obviously bending over backward to garner the votes of religious people – Hoosiers of Christian faith who “espouse values” as something important to them
Yet, it makes me wonder what God they believe in when they claim to be close to this deity, yet promote policies where money takes precedence over God’s creations – more specifically people and the environment which sustains us.
It’s certainly not the same God which Archbishop Desmond Tutu talked about in his editorial in the Guardian last month. He wrote this about our global consumption, values and moral defects of character:
The taste of “success” in our world gone mad is measured in dollars and francs and rupees and yen. Our desire to consume any and everything of perceivable value – to extract every precious stone, every ounce of metal, every drop of oil, every tuna in the ocean, every rhinoceros in the bush – knows no bounds. We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth.
If you don’t know who Desmond Tutu is, I’d strongly urge you to look him up online. Just to be clear, he’s talking about the same God that Governor Mike Pence refers to, yet Desmond Tutu speaks from an honest and more authoritative plane giving him more insight into the word of God. He further writes:
And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. It is a responsibility that begins with God commanding the first human inhabitants of the garden of Eden “to till it and keep it“. To keep it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it.
So, instead of accepting money from the fossil fuel industry and energy companies to kill off energy savings programs like our “evangelical conservative right-wingers” are doing, here is what Desmond Tutu recommends we do:
People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies. We can demand that the advertisements of energy companies carry health warnings. We can encourage more of our universities and municipalities and cultural institutions to cut their ties to the fossil-fuel industry. We can organize car-free days and build broader societal awareness. We can ask our religious communities to speak out.
This is coming from a true man of conviction and honor – a true spiritual leader on this globe. Compare his words with those who claim “religion” to snatch up your vote. Not even close in my book. His closing words should resonate with all people of faith:
It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.
We know the establishment owned media isn’t interested in our environment and neither are Hoosier lawmakers, but listen to the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Don’t all people of faith understand that we are the “custodians of creation”? If not us, than who is God commanding?
Experience the weather and compare it to what is written by the scientists. Don’t read junk science written by employees of the fossil fuel industry. Don’t listen to false prophets in our political system who have their hands in special interests pockets when we have access to spiritually enlightened leaders. Read the reports, trust your instincts and then act.
People of conscience take action.