A Parent’s Worst Nighmare

BY ON May 22, 2013

A woman carries her daughter through the wreckage of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado

On Monday, Shellbie Johnson, four years old, began to have trouble breathing. Her wheezing quickly turned into a full blown asthma attack. Every mother of a child with asthma knows that heart-stopping sound, as a child struggles to fill her lungs with air. Struggles to stay alive.

Sarah Johnson raced her toddler to the emergency room — in the middle of an unfolding catastrophe the likes of which the people of Moore, Oklahoma had never seen. Their entire town was struggling to stay alive. The tornado that slammed into Moore has claimed 24 lives — at last count. At the hospital, the ER nurses were hunkered down on the ground; Sarah threw a mattress over her daughter to protect her as they huddled against a wall, and took a direct hit from the twister.

As a parent, my heart breaks for all the lives torn into pieces by the twister. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Moore.

As a person who is profoundly concerned about the way we are messing with nature — my heart breaks again. No one is going to tell you that climate change causes a particular tornado. That would be silly. It is hard to know yet whether we’ll see fewer tornadoes in some places, because of less turbulence-causing wind shear, or more tornadoes because of more heat and humidity. Texas’ recent drought may have meant fewer tornadoes.

But every climate scientist today is concerned about the extreme weather events we are experiencing; they are happening in the context of climate change. Those twisters remind us of the savage power of the natural world.

Doing something about climate change is not going to help the people whose lives are already upended by tornadoes — or floods, hurricanes and droughts. But no parent can simply throw up her hands and ignore the trouble we are racing right into — because someday, in the not too distant future, each and every one of us will be imperiled.

Photo: Photograph by Sue Ogrocki via Yahoo News


TOPICS: Asthma, Climate Change, Heat and Extreme Weather, Oklahoma

  • rsmolker

    I have worked for years as climate activist and watched the miserable lack of action with despair, as my children’s future becomes more and more uncertain. In response to this, i want to warn against calling for “action” on climate without being more specific. Michelle’s husband, the prez, has stated what actions he sees as important, and those are mostly related to “clean, renewable energy” (jobs…). However, If you look more closely you will find that much of those supports are going to subsidies for burning things like wood from forests and garbage for electricity. Burning stuff is second only to wind and slated to overtake wind developments in near future. Sure burning biomass is not fossil fuel, but it results in even more carbon emissions and lots of toxic emissions that cause asthma and other diseases. Communities around the country are battling incinerator “renewable” proposals, and in Europe they are importing wood pellets from the USA to burn in combo with coal. Incineration is not “clean” or “renewable”. For more info, see Biofuelwatch http://www.biofuelwatch.net
    or Energy Justice Network http://www.energyjustice.net/

    Then, please engage in pushing for REAL solutions to climate change and fight back against FALSE solutions.


  • Dominique

    Great point and many thanks for taking the time to write to us. Please see my post relating to our appeal to Michelle Obama: http://www.momscleanairforce.org/2013/05/08/mothers-day/ Specifically we call for a ban on fossil fuel subsidies, support of real and clean renewable energy development, and the swiftest implementation of regulations to stop carbon emissions and protect the clean air act while we transition to a 21st century energy system as quickly as possible. ~ Dominique

  • Steve Russo

    As a professional in the Meteorology field for three decades, I would
    say that you need to study up on your Meteorology and climate. There is
    no proof at all that Global warming, climate change, or whatever you
    want to call it, is caused or even helped along by humans. The media has
    us to believe that there is consensus; there is not. Climate Change has
    been happening for literally millions of years before humans arrived on
    Earth, and is happening on other planets where there is no life at all.
    And even NOAA statistics show that there were more, and more powerful
    Hurricanes and tornadoes 50 years ago. Please learn the FACTS before
    making claims of Human caused Climate Change.