A Problem of Biblical Proportions

The summer's weather can safely be described as biblical, in the sense that newspaper writers generally use the word -- that is, loud, scary, and dangerous. Seventeen nations set new all-time temperature records (including a toasty 129 in Pakistan that also set the all-time Asia mark); the monsoon clobbered the mountains of the subcontinent with heartbreaking ferocity, setting off floods and landslides that left millions homeless; Moscow, which had never topped 100 degrees in all its history, endured a heat wave so spectacular that the Kremlin cut off all grain exports. Oh, and a piece of ice four times the size of Manhattan broke off the edge of Greenland.

Even less-cataclysmic storms seemed kind of Old Testament. In the Washington, D.C. area, for instance, a July thunderstorm (which meteorologists knew would be bad "even before it hit" because it had been so hot) turned out to be ... well, here's the spokeswoman for Virginia's largest utility, who said the company tracked more than 180,000 lightning strikes on its system in an eight-hour period: "That's pretty phenomenal," she said. "That's more lightning strikes than we’ve ever endured in recent memory." That works out to 6.25 per second. Very Charlton Heston.

The truth, though, is that the weather isn't really biblical, at least in the God-is-angry-and-has-decided-to-vent kind of way. We're not being punished for any of the long list of sins that right-wing preachers generally summon -- gay marriage isn't causing horrible monsoons.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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