We’re sitting on the upper deck of the Crab’s Claw in Atlantic Beach, enjoying the salty breeze, and sweating. It’s November, and it’s 82 degrees.

An obnoxiously busy October left Susan and I both yearning for respite, so we made an uncharacteristically impromptu decision to take a break.

We had expected to enjoy walking on the beach, hiking through a maritime forest, and maybe a little painting or reading.

We had not anticipated wearing shorts every day. If we’d stayed home, it would have been even warmer.

I can’t prove the oddly warm days were due to global warming – temporary fluctuations do happen. Still, I checked every November 4 for the past dozen years, and the average high was considerably cooler.

Whether our delightfully pleasant weekend was due to climate change or not, the evidence for a devastating transformation in global weather patterns is clear to any but the most determined science denier.

A long-term drought in the American West continues to drain the massive Lake Mead to levels not seen since it was filled. Aquifers in the dry Southwest are dropping rapidly due largely to massive farms sucking up the water. The Mississippi River has fallen so low that large barges can’t navigate it, creating a backlog of grain shipments and other cargo stuck in ports along the way.

In Kenya, elephants, zebras, and wildebeests are dying of thirst – by the hundreds.

But when the rains come, they’re often accompanied by stronger than usual storms with damaging winds and flooding. Hurricanes and typhoons are more likely to become faster and fiercer.

Most of the world doesn’t see it, but Arctic and Antarctic temperatures are rising faster than the rest of the globe. Warming waters beneath and warming air above is melting ice caps at an alarming rate.

The ocean is rising, beaches are retreating, and low-lying island nations could disappear beneath the waves.

Blah, blah, blah, right?

That’s the all-too-frequent response. We don’t want to hear it, so we ignore it. As the COP 27 conference gets under way for global leaders to talk about climate change, shrill voices will cry out for both nations and individuals to take the ongoing crisis seriously, but little progress will be made.

Humans are a stubborn and short-sighted lot. As long as there’s gas at the pumps and bread on the shelves, we go about our business as if it will always be so.

But world-wrecking climate change is real, and it’s not as if we haven’t seen it coming. My undergraduate ecology course in the early 1970s warned against both overpopulation and what was then typically called “the greenhouse effect.”

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevents heat from radiating from the earth’s surface. That can be a good thing, or the earth would be frigid, but there’s a very delicate balance. The more CO2 in the air, the more heat that gets trapped below. Rising amounts of methane – much of it from cattle raised for meat and milk – add to the problem.

I learned about that 50 years ago. More than 30 years ago, Al Gore began a campaign to give voice to scientist’s concern about climate change. He and others have raised the alarm with speeches and books and movies like An Inconvenient Truth, but we prefer convenience.

It’s astonishing to think of how much power humans have – power enough to change the climate of the entire world.

But it’s sobering to realize that we lack the power to control the runaway changes we have created – or should I say, we lack the willpower.

While some nations and individuals are taking serious steps to reduce carbon emissions, others focus their energy on political or economic gain, and the world be damned.

In the end, we’ll use up all the fossil fuels and be forced to turn to cleaner energy, but by then, what kind of world will we have?

Many of us won’t live to see the worst of it, but our children and grandchildren will.

The author of Ecclesiastes noted that when consequences for wrongdoing don’t happen quickly, it emboldens people to continue in their folly (Ecc. 8:11), and we see that all around.

Exile was in mind for the writer of Lamentations, but I wonder if our descendants will one day be applying Lamentations 5:7 to us: “Our ancestors sinned; they are no more, and we bear their iniquities.”

Iniquities, indeed.

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