Mother Earth Is Speaking to Us: Will We Listen?

By Tim Canova

As we in Florida brace for Hurricane Irma, our thoughts and prayers are with loved ones everywhere, from those in harm’s way to those watching Irma’s devastation from afar. Like Hurricane Harvey, Irma is a reminder of the fragility of life and of our ecosystem.

Warmer oceans, hotter storms: Hurricane Andrew caused massive devastation throughout Florida in 1992. 25 years later, we’re seeing a hurricane exponentially bigger.

There are reminders everyday. As Houston was hit by its third “500-year flood” in three years, parts of South Asia were inundated by record rainfalls and floods that took more than 1200 lives. A magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Mexico, the strongest in a century, has killed dozens. Meanwhile, Irma has flattened entire island nations in the Caribbean, she’s bearing down on Florida, and two more big hurricanes are building in her path.

This is what climate change looks like, with extreme weather and catastrophic storms as the new normal. An oppressive heat wave descended on Los Angeles as enormous infernos of forest fires have broken out in huge parts of California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Each year, 4 million acres of American forests go up in smoke and this year’s devastation is even worse.

Mother Earth is speaking to us, she has a fever, and we continue to heat up the planet with hydrocarbons from fossil fuels and methane from deforestation and enormous factory farms.

For too long we have accepted climate denial from Republicans and climate excuses from Democrats — too many of whom are in the pockets of corporate lobbyists, and too many are indifferent to melting polar ice caps, dying coral reefs, rising sea levels, warmer ocean temperatures, and extreme weather and geological events.

As we brace ourselves for Irma, we know that many in our communities live in dwellings that provide little to no refuge from these storms. Many of our neighbors must now join along with our large and growing homeless population in search of public shelters.

We think of all those in Florida whose lives and property are now at risk, and those confronted by other deadly natural and man-made disasters around our country and around the world — from monster storms and flooding, to huge infernos and earthquakes. These are “the common enemies of man” that President Kennedy hoped would bring humankind closer together in shared consciousness of our common vulnerabilities. Let us remember what binds us all together, to love and care for each other and help our neighbors when we can.

Irma is expected to utterly devastate Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys, followed by a direct hit on Naples and Fort Myers on the west coast of Florida. All of Florida is in danger. Irma is such a huge storm — bigger than the state of Ohio — that there will surely be terrible losses along Florida’s east coast as well.

In this uncertain hour, our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Irma’s path.