The encyclical by Pope Francis on the far-reaching global harm that will result from ungoverned climate change — harm not just to plants and animals, but also to our fellow members of the human family — seems to have put a chorus of self-interested atmospheric polluters in full-throat denial.
The pope’s message could hardly have been more urgent or more timely, for there is increasing scientific consensus that extreme heat contributes to the frequency of torrential rainfall and resulting deadly flash floods.
That has been borne out by the weather pattern of this difficult spring and summer, in which periods of exceptional warmth and withering drought have been succeeded by seemingly relentless spells of heavy rain.
Across much of the middle and southern U.S., normally placid streams have been swollen to raging torrents, flooding residential areas and resulting in extensive property damage and the tragic loss of lives.
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Texas, Arkansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana have been among the year’s worst hit, with roads, bridges, neighborhoods and in some cases whole towns inundated.
In Oklahoma and Texas, 31 deaths were reported during the peak of the flooding. In San Marcos, Texas, and in Austin and Houston, scores were saved by emergency rescuers.
And yet there are some who still contend that the price of global warming has been greatly overstated — that climate change is in fact fiction.
It will be valuable to hear firsthand the testimony of those who suffered the ordeal — the ones from whom rampaging waters have in some cases taken nearly everything: their homes, their family members and, too often, their hopes for tomorrow.