Water

Loving the World

"For God so loved the world ..." Lately John 3:16 won't leave me alone. It hovers above my shoulder as I read The Washington Post. Really, God? You love this world?

The Indus River flooded this summer. Engorged to 40 times its normal size, the raging water left 1,700 Pakistanis dead, made environmental refugees out of millions of people, and sentenced countless to death by second-hand consequences. If those floods happened in the U.S., they'd spread from Dallas to Duluth.

Pakistan's leaders and relief agencies sent up urgent pleas for aid. Response was slow. Didn’t we just give to Haiti relief? What if our aid goes to the Taliban? American taxpayers just bailed out Wall Street; we can’t bail out every flood, hurricane, and drought that comes along. Really, Divine Creator? You agape this clamoring chaos?

In 2007, climate scientists predicted these floods. Glaciers feeding the Indus river basin are the largest ice fields on earth, other than the polar caps -- and they are melting. Pakistan's heavy monsoons are cyclical, but climate change is making them more erratic and extreme. The massive, World Bank-sponsored Tarbela Dam project on the Indus disrupted its natural flow and vastly expanded the flood plain. The project also managed to transfer a major portion of Pakistan’s natural resources into the hands of a wealthy few while displacing 100,000 people. The "timber mafia" -- a network of organized crime that includes government officials, land-speculators, and the desperate poor -- has accelerated deforestation. Timber gangs can clear 90,000 trees in two nights. "These forests used to absorb the ferocity of the floodwater," explained a Pakistani forestry scientist.

Maybe so few gave aid for the Pakistani flood victims because we know it's going to happen again. And again. This is "what global warming looks like," say NASA climate experts.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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