Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are slowly receding into memory, but only very slowly as the nation begins to take stock and engage in the painful work of rebuilding what has been lost to two “once-in-a-thousand-year weather events” in the last two weeks.
The land lies stripped, littered with debris, seemingly lifeless. Not only humans have lost their habitat. Countless living species who shared the land have been left homeless, uprooted, bereaved.
There is much to understand and change if we hope, as a human family that is a responsible member of the Earth community, to reduce the frequency and danger of storms like these. Much attention has been given to the ways climate change, fueled by human fossil fuel use, warms oceans and builds the strength and destructiveness of these storms.
Others point out how, as we continue to pave over vast amounts of land and “reclaim” swamps and wetlands for neighborhood developments, we make it impossible for the land to absorb the trillions of gallons of rainfall that storms like these unleash and to buffer the vicious storm surges. The city of Houston itself covers 627 square miles. Much of the city was built on marshes, forested land, swamp, or prairie, all of which could have helped reduce the damage from the storm had they not been covered over by neighborhood development.
We can hope that the rebuilding that will now begin will be wiser ecologically, more attuned to the demands of sustainability, more oriented to regeneration of the land and its natural habitats. The public commitments of politicians, many of whom even question the reality of climate change, to rebuild “bigger and better” does not inspire much hope for wiser discernment giving birth to more responsible and regenerative urban development. Please join with us in prayer that our nation and its leaders may be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to the forgiveness and conversion of life that we need for the wellbeing of all the Earth community.
[N.B. The Season of Creation offers prayer materials for “Land Sunday” that may be useful in group settings.]