The smaller El Niño events of old spawned floods, droughts, and famines
The human capacity for adaptation is remarkable. Stories of survival through adapting to unfamiliar environments fill volumes of literature on the most cherished shelves. Sometimes, though, we adapt too well to situations that will bring us harm in the long run. The phrase “super typhoon” causes awe at first, but soon we are accustomed to hearing it. To adapt without desensitization, then, is a higher goal.
We ought to be mindful, respectful even, of our initial feelings when hearing of troublesome events in our world, particularly those from ongoing problems like global warming (another diminished-impact phrase). El Niño, then La Niña, and now “super” El Niño.
The high-low sea surface temperature (SST) cycles in the central and east-central Pacific Ocean, known as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), cause global changes in temperature and rainfall. Depending on the intensity of the oscillations, agriculture and agriculturally-centered economies can be – and have been – devastated many times over.
Now comes what Alternet.org calls the third-ever “super” El Niño, which the op-ed site says is already underway. Hurricanes and typhoons in the Pacific have broken frequency records, and Indonesia has experienced massive wildfires – all due to the super Niño’s development, according to Alternet.org.
Previously in my ULTIMATE ERROR blog, I’ve discussed the ravages of El Niño in the Horn of Africa, causing two consecutive, complete crop failures in Ethiopia alone. Famine has been averted only via the timely and smart cooperation of USAID and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).
It would be a grave error to underestimate even “regular” El Niño cycles. At the same time, it would be erroneous to become overly discouraged – essentially surrendering to the troublesome events – because we are now experiencing the tolls of manmade climate change. NOAA and NASA, to name only two leaders in the field, say many more consequences are coming as we attempt to ratify the Paris Agreement and implement the serious changes that will, eventually lower the temperature of our fevered Earth.
There’s a perspective upon which it would be quite useful to agree: The Earth is ailing. El Niño events are symptoms of her illness. Aren’t symptoms the body’s way of alerting us that something is wrong? And isn’t ignoring serious symptoms universally foolish?
In ULTIMATE ERROR, my upcoming novel, I explore in fiction the many ways in which we humans, in reality, tiptoe daily on the thin line between continuing survival and widespread catastrophe. This, in the interest of keeping our planet “front-of-mind.” The tasks before us are monumental, but I don’t see an alternative but to do them! And we must keep our wits about us while more and more – and larger and larger – storms make landfall across the planet. While crops fail, we must continue vigilance against famines and do the longer-term work at hand.
We have a sick lady on our hands and, from deep love, we will take unceasing action, undaunted, to save the Great Mother; the mother of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived.