Thursday, September 8, 2016

Piece on Climate Change and Drought

The Cyclical Nature of Weather
by Katie Preston

Katie Preston is a member of the EARTH team 
and lives in Boston, MA.

What a year it has been. As we’ve seen for the past 16 years, record after record is falling for the “hottest month” each and every month. When I moved to New England last December, I was hoping for a mild winter to help ease me into the change from Southern life. And I received my wish – compared to the previous winter, things were pretty mild here in Boston. But now that summer is here in full force, it’s apparent that mild winter means brutal summer.

When we were in middle school learning about weather, I remember coming back from a snow day, and our teacher said it was time to stop learning about weather because the week before it had be 80 and she didn’t want to experience any more weather phenomenon we were studying! What we learned back then was that weather patterns are cyclical.  But weather is reliant on the climate – yes, they are different! Weather is “the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy.” Climate, on the other hand, is the study of weather over time. Local weather is a result of the climate patterns over time. As the earth’s temperature rises over time, what we refer to as climate change, local weather patterns change in comparison to historical averages and seasons. We are seeing temperatures rise in higher latitudes, a longer season for hurricanes and monsoons, and detrimental drought as well.

As people of faith who believe in the call to care for creation, we can no longer ignore the impacts of climate change, or wait to take action. Climate change and the weather impacts are upon us in full force. The drought in California and the current wildfires remind us how fragile life is. All the while Baton Rouge is flooded and thousands of people are displaced because of a freak amount of rain in a short period of time. And these are the effects we are feeling here in the US – but people all over the globe have been experiencing these impacts for years, and do not have the resources to mitigate or respond to climate change the way we do. We are called to care for the least of these, and to help our brothers and sisters in need.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program released a great resource to consider climate change and water that highlights some important things to know, and things you can do to help. While the climate will not change overnight, we can do our part to be better prepared to respond to the drastic weather phenomenon occurring across the globe, and reaching out to help our neighbors in crisis.

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