Floods, drought: the Earth needs us now

floods in southern Russia

I could hardly believe it when I read in the paper today that major floods in Russia have caused nearly 200 deaths this week.


It is bone dry here in the hills of western Massachusetts.  It is so dry that if I did not water my vegetable garden every day, all my beautiful plants would be drying up in the merciless drought.

When I walk by the half-dry river in the afternoons, I am struck by all the yellow and brown leaves on the path—the forest has the golden cast of September now, the dry spell fast-forwarding us from mid-summer to fall.

The first veiled hints of trouble have made their way into the mainstream media, with crop losses due to drought expected to push up the prices of food in the U.S.

Barely a mention of shortages yet.  No rationing.  Just higher prices, which will make it harder for those of us on fixed incomes—not to mention all the unemployed—to afford to buy what we want to eat.

Clearly there is a shocking imbalance between the torrential rains in Europe and the parched drought here in the US.

Clearly it’s anthropogenic climate change rearing its scary hydra head.

I have heard tell of Native Americans calling on the rain gods to bring rain clouds to a dry landscape.

Our own techno-engineers talk about seeding the clouds to provide rain.

In both cases, it’s a matter of human beings applying our great brain power to find solutions to problems that threaten our existence.

Each of us has some gift to contribute to the common cause of survival—remembering that the survival of human beings is entirely intertwined with the survival of every other life form on the planet, from plankton to trees to bees.

Truly, this is no time to wait shyly on the sidelines to be invited, or to wait for others to take the lead.

As the saying goes, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. If ever a time called for brilliant and dramatic solutions, that time is now.

Leave a comment


  1. I love the way, when discussing increasing costs you refer to the food we “want” to eat.

    I have come to believe that if all who are privileged were to make a determined effort to expect a little less- if we dropped the contemporary sense of personal entitlement – there might be some hope for the future, even with the population pressures.

    Do you remember when chicken was a treat? Sunday roast and all that?
    And when travel was an adventure.

    We got so greedy….It’s sad.

    Actually it’s worse than sad. It’s criminal. We’re consigning our own children to misery. Why should they pay for our indulgence??

    Why is this happening?

    My youngest, fourteen, has ground down her teeth with anxiety. She learns at school some grim forecasts. She is so angry with adults. She can’t participate in the duping and self-deception that permeates our entire way of being in the West. She lost her “innocence” in the wildfires. She knows that Nature is far stronger than us. She knows that no-one can protect her from death and loss as this world goes to shit.

    She wanted a future where she could have her own family

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  July 12, 2012

      It’s so painful to think of what the future may hold for our children. I try not to talk about all this too much with my two kids, because I don’t want them to feel too grim or hopeless about their future. My youngest is also 14, and he is very sensitive and somewhat fearful by nature…so I am especially wary of painting a negative picture for him. But sometimes that does feel like I’m being forced into a white lie, like putting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus, knowing full well I’m the one who has done all the shopping….

      As a teacher, I walk this line all the time, and will even more in the coming years, as I bring climate change and environmental havoc into my curricula–mostly via science fiction and non-fiction activist writing, since literature is my field. How to impress upon the young that this is THE important issue of their time, and they MUST rise to grapple with it, without causing them to panic or despair?

    • I try now since 20 years to reduce consumption and it is astonishing how much I’m still able to eliminate by reorganizing and using unusual, non-confom methods. I’m convinced that US consumers could reduce their carbon footprint by half without loss of quality of life.

      You ask, why this is happening?

      TV brainwashing, advertising, the need of businesses to sell more and more stuff by increasing demand because otherwise they will lose the free market total war.

      There are other reasons too (change of values and of social constructs), but I would start by eliminating TV and advertising.

  2. Yes, Jennifer, there is weather all over the planet. It rains here, it’s dry there; it’s cold here, it’s hot there. That’s what makes this such a beautiful place for life, the only place we know.

    And it’s always been this way. Weather has always been variable. The year I was born, there were record blizzards on the Great Plains. In the 1930s, the Plains were the Dust Bowl. When Lewis and Clark first saw the land west of the Missouri River they called it the Great American Desert. In 1901, droughts spread all acros the United States. In 1910, hundreds died from the heat in New York City. In 2011, there were floods throught the Mississippi River Valley.

    We can’t blame everything on Global Warming.

    • leavergirl

       /  July 12, 2012

      Hear, hear, Michael. A voice of sanity.

      Still though, paving over everything is not the way to keep the planet cool. Just sayin’… 🙂

      • Hi Michael and Leavergirl

        No one is suggesting that severe weather and shifts in climate are a new phenomenon. Nor that every unusual weather event is a symptom of AGW.

        Take a look at this map http://www.nrdc.org/health/climate/extreme-weather.asp .

        If 96% of climate scientists are predicting climate chaos and the prevalence of record-breaking weather events keep ramping up around us, wouldn’t it be responsible to take heed of what the experts and the planet herself are trying to tell us?

        After all, the solution (if it’s not too late) entails nothing more than reducing pollution and growing soil. We should be attempting both of these things anyway, don’t you think?

    • leavergirl

       /  July 15, 2012

      Well, the problem with reducing pollution is that it runs smack into the Jevons paradox. The more one person reduces their use of fossil fuels, the more is available to others. But if we had a sane society, you’d think we would do it together! But noooo…. Fortunately, fossil fuels will run out some day. Meanwhile, we can put the carbon and water where they belong… in the soil (and trees). Thank you, Angie, for spreading the idea!

  3. Martin Lack

     /  July 13, 2012

    What’s going on in Russia sure puts our woes in perspective. We have merely had the wettest 3 months since 1912 and the wettest June on record and stuff like 80mm of rain in one day – but – thinking positive – at least the water companies have lifted all their drought orders and hosepipe bans… the 18 months of record-breaking low rainfall are but a distant memory (but for how long?)… Do hope your record-breaking heat and dry spell ends soon.


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