Talking about the world is talking about whatever it entails, people, nature, life, death, environment, physical features, business, science and technology. It is talking about the aspirations, the joys and the sorrows of the planet. It also means talking about the climatic changes. Some of these changes depend on the normal course of events and seasonal changes, but others depend on the good or bad use, that the human race has given to the mother earth.
It's in fashion today to talk about global warming and climatic changes. But it's neither enough, nor just to talk so much about this phenomena without talking about its human cause and the measures of how to eradicate such causes. It's blindness to claim the effects of climatic change without calling for a mentality change, and to talk about global warming, without condemning globalization of economic and political policies that promote the inappropriate and careless exploitation of natural resources.
While in some regions of the world people are suffering from droughts, floods, hurricane winds, in other places it's ice, snow and snow storms, that are affecting people. Humanity is experiencing negative results of global warming, like, famine all over the world (not only in Africa as some mass media try to make us believe), the melting of ice caps, dangerous and heavy storms, the flooding of low lying areas and coastlands, sea level rising, the destruction of crops...
Those who have worked around the rivers, for example in the Amazon Basin, we have seen how during the heavy rainy season, the whole region suffers from, what's called there, inundation o "conejera," which is the over flooding of the rivers causing destruction of crops, death of animals and of fish, falling of houses. During this season, the movement of people is greatly affected, agricultural work stopped and school activities hindered. What we call natural disaster, in most cases is human created disaster, because it is as result of man's activity.
Some people all over the world have tried to predict that the 3rd world war might be caused by the struggle for petroleum. They may be wrong in predicting a war that is already taking place. That war is already in course, and it's the war that the human person is waging against mother nature, mother earth. By waging war against nature, man is attacking himself and his innocent neighbor. The exploitation of mineral resources, misuse of water, cutting down of trees, killing of different species, destroying biodiversity, accelerated urbanization, industrialization, all that is part of human war against nature.
It's unfortunate because while the Bible calls nature to adore its Lord, man seems to make it hate its Lord. The canticle of Daniel makes this beautiful invitation: "Cold and chill bless the Lord, dew and rain bless the Lord, frost amd chill, bless the Lord, ice and snow, bless the Lord, you springs, bless the Lord...."This beautiful Daniel melody is losing meaning because man's greed for the natural resources, is making nature hostile to God's people and to creation. The book of Genesis also reminds us that, man created in the image and likeness of God, has the mission of protecting life of nature and of neighbor.
SNOW AND ICE IN THE MISSION
When we came here in the United States last year, Winter season was just beginning. We thought it was going to be like any other Winter that we have heard about. It hasn't been the case, it's Winter and something more. First of all, this year, the snow started earlier than people are accustomed to. Due to this early appearance of snow, people started forecasting a "white Christmas," which means, celebrating Christmas in a snow environment. They were saying, "It's a long time since we had a white Christmas." Surprisingly, it was green Christmas, because shortly before the Nativity, not only did it cease snowing, but also a heavy rain fell and washed away the sponges of snow, leaving clear the manger for the Baby Jesus to be born. As Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, he didn't let the snow replace him nor prevent people from going for mass and to enjoy a warm climate.
The weather changes in this winter are very strange, unreliable and unpredictable. You can start with a snow and clear morning, within a short time, it becomes cloudy and stormy, later on it starts raining, soaking the snow or washing it away.
It seems ironic to talk of global warming, while what we are experiencing seems to be "local freezing." It's difficult to imagine how warming can cause freezing. It can be explained this way: As the arctic is warming, cold and snow are moving down to where we are. They are two aspects of the same process. In this respect, climatic change has brought with itself what we can call a geographic change, in the sense that, some places which were traditionally cold and wet in a certain season, are changing to hot and dry, and vice versa. One lady in our house, seeing the snow all around, exclaimed to me: "Alaska has come over here." By this she seemed to mean that we are living a weather as cold as that of Alaska. But strictly speaking she wanted to mean, in a symbolic way, that all the snow of Alaska had come down to New Jersey. We can conclude that climatic changes cause geographic changes.
When the media informs that the following days there will be snow, people start rushing to the shops to buy salt to spread on the roads, on sidewalks and around their homes. Others run to buy new shovels to replace the broken ones, to plow the snow. In the supermarkets, people go to buy cloths, gloves, shoes, that can keep them warm during the season. It seems a Christmas season where by people run for a big shopping. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles are seen and heard all over, running to respond to the situation. The sirens and noise of these vehicles have become the daily melody of the place, that unite to form a snow concert.
What is more worrying, due to the prolonged and unpredictable ice and snow, some shops have run short of road salt, such that no one can buy the quantity he needs. Salt is being rationed. When our missionaries went to a certain shop, which is a big provider of all kinds of home materials and equipment, to buy about ten bags of salt, they were allowed to buy only two, so that others could also get something. This took place in the township Franklin (Somerset). It's not clear if on the other side of New Brunswick, and other parts of New Jersey they had the same shortage of road salt. We have information that even in Washington D.C, the situation is the same.
This extreme cold weather, has caused a very high demand for electricity, heating oil and natural gas. In some houses pipes have burst because of freezing and roofs fallen because of snow. In some hospitals, they have had many patients with snow related accidents and injuries. There has been electric failure on one side and rise in the bill for the same energy due to the quantity of heat that is needed. All this situation is taking place when society is just recovering from the economic crisis. The loses that are being experienced can further delay this recovery process.
We have witnessed the destruction of the natural habitat, like the breaking of trees and withering of grass. There are strong snow storms causing road traffic accidents, forced closure of schools, offices and business and suspension of daily masses and other appointments. People have gotten stranded going back home or to their jobs. The only creatures that look happy are the squirrels, the geese and small birds, that are seen playing around in snow and going on with their normal activities.
SNOW IN OUR HOUSE
Due to the high costs in paying a worker, we have decided to do the plowing ourselves. Encouraged by one of our lay friends, Paul Mageto who visited us during Christmas time, we resolved to operate the truck to plow the snow and to spread the salt over the surface of the paths and side walks that lead to our premises. As one of the results, we are among the very few churches around that don't suspend the mass because of snow. We rather clear it off quickly, thus enabling the people to come and worship. One Christian has already noted: "Thanks be to God that we have strong missionaries. Missionaries always show up." This person was indicating that, despite of the snow, our activities go on normally. Though the premise is big, having been once the Regional House, we are just four people living here: Frs Paul Stefanowich, Paolo Fedrigoni, Timothy Gatitu and Peter Ssekajugo, who struggle to maintain this big premise.
We are always attentive to the daily weather forecast to be aware when snow is coming. Generally, these forecasters are precise, but sometimes they are far from reality. The news reporters also give good snow coverage, during and after the event. We can read some of the titles: "More Snow coming your way,". or " Another storm forecast for Garden State tonight with freezing rain, sleet." Or "The precipitation is expected to begin as snow tonight, then switch to freezing rain and sleet before ending as rain late Wednesday. .reports the Jersey Newspaper, "Home News Tribune."
The reality we are talking about is the one that surrounds us, where we live, which includes the counties of: Middlesex, Union, Somerset, Hunterdon and areas like Allentown, Andover, etc. According to news, in some States, they have suffered even more snow phenomenon. Our missionaries in California and Buffalo have also had their similar tough experience. Likewise, those of Canada have different and sometimes more alarming stories of this winter.
On various occasions, the Governor of New Jersey has declared a state of emergency in the whole the State, ordering the public offices to clause. In various occasions he has issued a communication like this: "I encourage the New Jerseyans to drive carefully and remain off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations." In one of the last few weeks, according to the Flightaware.com, the website that follows air traffic, more than 2,000 U.S flights were canceled only and more tan 250 delayed. All tis occurred in one single day. It's been further reported by the local press that ever sine the winter started, late last year, some 49.000 flights have been canceled and 300.000 delayed in the whole country. The total accumulation of snow ever since winter started, is said to be 38 inches, breaking the preexisting record of 30 inches. Here in New Jersey, sometimes it's estimated to be between 6 to 12 inches of snow.
The only day that we had a happy warm weather during all this winter was last Sunday, February 2, that the Super Bowl was played. It was just that day, as if God wanted to do some favor to the players and their fans. Soon after the game, the climate regained its normal cold and snowy status. But even if the weather had not become better, it was impossible to stop the event as is done to some other activities. This was a world tournament final.
As we can see, in all these climatic problems around the world, the authorities are concerned about the effects, and just look for circumstantial solutions. Very little is being done to stop the causes of the current environmental crisis and tragedy. If we have gotten such a unpredictable, un reliable and extremely cold winter and snowy season, we can wait for an equally strange and extreme hot Summer this year.
Let us join hands in calling the world's attention to fight against the degradation of the natural environment and the over ambitious and careless exploitation of human and natural resources.