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article imageOp-Ed: Response to disaster predictions from faith, government, science

By Carol Forsloff     May 8, 2011 in Environment
Californians are warned of earthquake potential, while some say the Central Mississippi region to be more at risk, as flooding and tornado worries plague the Delta. So how should we think and behave when science, faith and government predict disasters?
Two days ago, after writing an article on the potential of an earthquake in the New Madrid area, I had several responses, some reasoned and some unreasonable to my private email. One writer said, “I am getting tired of hearing about stuff like this. Keep it light” while another said, “You forgot to tell people the prophesies about the end times and the New Madrid earthquake and how the country will be divided just like Revelation says.” Another writer, simply said, “Thank you. We need to know what problems are possible and where they might be.”
Some scientists tell us environmental disasters will increase with climate change and that they will become more and more severe. In the meantime, the world faces diseases, terrorism and domestic protests in a changing world where the haves want more and the have-nots want their share as well. This adds to the din of negative news, producing the “crying wolf” syndrome, fear and religious fervor to get in the way of reasoned response.
While awaiting Armageddon there are faith groups who maintain that the earth is Satan’s kingdom and why worry about anything at all except converting the next fellow to a similar belief. The more assertive of these groups declare they need only prepare for the Rapture, as it is coming soon; so trying to save the world and oneself is not the goal. They point to such things as the potential of an earthquake in the Central Mississippi region as a certainty soon and a cause for spiritual awakening. Others say as long as there are minority scientists questioning potential disasters, there is no such thing as global warming. Followers of this thinking maintain we need to wait to worry and use our money for living now and the future will take care of itself. Still others do nothing when there is a strong alert because they say these alerts happen often and then nothing happens, and all the preparation is for nothing. All of these unreasoned responses lead to problems for everyone else.
And what are those problems? The cost of rescue for those who decide to remain and “ride out” the storms, as has occurred many times in major disasters of those who believe in the “crying wolf” game is one of those problems. There are also those who panic at the last minute, searching for supplies they cannot find, which can give rise to looting or other stress-related and fear-related acts. The inertia towards helping others through financial donations and physical help is another issue caused by those waiting for a spiritual redemption while ignoring the helpless on earth. That is also true of those who set themselves apart by accumulating material goods and not allowing for funding for environmental causes and optional energy sources that could minimize some of the problems in the future.
So what needs to happen is a reasoned response. The fact is the earth is changing as a result of climate change, whether man or nature induced. This means preparing for the worst while living one’s life not in fear by in keen awareness of one’s circumstances and those of one’s neighbors. And finally, in that goes around comes around donations of help, money and supplies to help those victims of disasters is important because the life you save indeed may be your own.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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