Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Major Tipping Point; Fire and Rain

Praying the News

It’s one of those weeks -- again. Scientists warn that we are approaching a planet-wide tipping point, a sort of point of no return for our biosphere. Meanwhile, people are experiencing the effects of climate change even as many continue to ignore or deny its reality. Here’s an initial response of prayer.

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect For the Conservation of Natural Resources (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 827)

Please pray for:

People affected by the wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico, and other parts of the western United States.  Wildfires continue to burn in many parts of the western United States, causing loss of homes and even loss of life. (See this comprehensive report from The Weather Channel .) A new study suggests that such fires may be part of a shifting pattern of wildfire risk brought on by climate change. This week’s Colorado fire was made worse by elements of the sorts of things climate scientists have told us to expect: hot and windy weather, the presence of some dead and dying trees because warmer winters allowed the number of mountain pine beetles to increase, and some firefighters that would normally be brought into Colorado for this sort of fire already at work in New Mexico.

People affected by flooding in Florida and Alabama. Unusually heavy rains caused severe flooding in the Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama this weekend.  With 13.13” of rain on Saturday, Pensacola’s old record of 1.95” set in 1913 was shattered. The Capital Climate blog  points out that the record was broken by a factor of 6.7 to 1.

Wisdom as we approach a planet-wide tipping point. A review paper in the June 7 issue of Nature says that climate change combined with population growth and widespread destruction of natural ecosystems may be driving our planet to a major tipping point. The lead author of the paper, Anthony Barnosky of UC-Berkeley, says that if we reach this point, “It really will be a new world, biologically.”  A very readable summary of this work, Scientistsuncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth, is available from the UC-Berkeley news center. It includes this summary from Dr. Barnosky, who includes reasons for hope even as he explains their findings:

Being with all of this prayerfully tends to lead us to a desire to act. The greatest block to public action seems to be a lack of public will to acknowledge what is happening and to let our leaders know that we want public policies to mitigate climate change and prepare us for the future.  A lack of awareness – on all sorts of levels – is at the heart of this. May God give us wisdom and courage to help create greater awareness, and open hearts to remain both aware and full of hope and joy.

O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Joy in God’s Creation (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 814)