I've just gotten back to New York after a visit to Tennessee that was supposed to end on Saturday. And then the rains came. I've never seen anything like the downpour last weekend. The devastation was swift and relentless. Every time we thought the skies were clearing, they would open up again. My friends Gary and Diana, who live in Franklin, were spared any destruction. But only a couple of miles away, in the next hollow, their neighbors were scrambling to leave home as the Harpeth River spilled into their basements. Strangers began camping in driveways that were high enough to be spared from the rapidly rising waters.

You don't realize how strong water is (or, more precisely, you don't understand buoyancy) until you see it lift cars and trucks and entire houses; we watched on television as a small building floated down a highway. I found myself thinking about Noah's Ark. He had time. He was given enough warning to gather together all those creatures, and march them in couples up the plank into the safety of his small vessel. The fact is, even with sophisticated radar and televised predictions of thunderstorms, nothing could prepare people for the way this deluge worked. Sudden, relentless, and terrifying. The friends who called in said they barely had time to decide what to throw in their cars, much less organize their friends in the animal kingdom. So far, twenty-five people have died.

While the rains came down, I was getting whatever news I could off the Internet--when we had power--about the calamitous oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. I refuse to call it a leak or a spill; it is coming on too fast and no one knows how long it will go on. It is time for us to start connecting the dots. I've written more about this in my May column for the Environmental Defense Fund. I am convinced, by the analysis (click there for a link to Climate Progress) of the science I've been reading, that the flooding is related to the effects of our warming planet; extreme weather, and the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, are connected. The clean up is also creating further environmental destruction because of the toxicity of chemicals being used; click here to a thoughtful piece on this subject.

It strikes me that it was only because I lost my job at House & Garden that I was given the chance to study and write about what's happening with our environment. The VP for Marketing and Communications had been an HG reader, loved my monthly column, and wanted me to take a similar approach to the issues that EDF addresses. I jumped at the chance.

The SLOW LOVE book tour has gotten off to an adventurous start. But my message couldn't be more heartfelt: we need to love our planet more. We need to take better care of it. We have no other ark.


ArchitectDesign™ said...

Bravo! I couldn't agree more. I'm always shocked by the people (coworkers even!) who deny that global warming even exists. We have irrefutable evidence of the destruction we are causing to our own home. The time for action is now. We should be developing more sustainable means of energy. A big pitfall of our government today is not taking firmer action developing these new technologies and enforcing preservation of what we have left. New digging for oil? How about spending those monies on electric cars and solar / wind power? It blows my mind that we are allowing this to happen to ourselves and turn a blind eye.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Timely and wise words.
Of course, all this extreme weather is related to the state of the planet.

Unknown said...

THANK YOU for mentioning your experience in
Tennessee. I live in Brentwood, and our neighborhood
was spared. Travel about 3 miles down the road from us and you enter a watery hell. Even with
Anderson Cooper coming into to Nashville to report,
the national media has all but ignored the flooding here.

Kathleen Sonntag said...

Listen to Her, our Earth, our Mother,
To what She is saying, people, listen all.

American Indian Prayer

Thanks for your wonderful column