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What’s going on here?

Now, what is going on here? I always thought storms raged through other places, not here in mid-America, for goodness sake.
In the past, when I saw lovely photos of coastal regions, in the back of my mind there were always thoughts of hurricanes and tidal waves. Yes, I could appreciate the tourist brochures that touted the north’s cool summers, but the region’s winter blizzards brought me back to reality. And what about those tornadoes in the Plains, or droughts in the Southwest?
It may not have seemed as exotic here in the Midwest, but at least it was ‘safe.’
But then came 2008: power outages of extended duration, record floods and destructive winds that spun off from some other region’s storms. Few of us ever thought that a power generator could be a life-or-death appliance in the beautiful hills of Southern Indiana.
What is going on here? Could this indeed be the dreaded ‘climate change’ we have all read and heard about?
I’m in the middle of reading Thomas Friedman’s most recent book, ‘Hot, Flat, and Crowded.’ Friedman always lays out the highly complex conditions of today in an understandable manner, and this book is no exception. No boring read, ‘Hot, Flat, and Crowded’ is serious and urgent in its call.
‘We have a problem,’ Friedman says. ‘Global warming, the stunning rise of the middle classes all over the world and rapid population growth have converged in a way that could make our planet dangerously unstable. It is tightening energy supplies, intensifying the extinction of plants and animals, deepening energy poverty, strengthening petro-dictatorship, and accelerating climate change.’
Now, add in the Washington, D.C., financial stimulus package and President Obama’s directive for an economic restructuring of our country.
Last week, the new president, while standing in a high school in Elkhart, gave a call for new thinking and new actions. Why deliver his first strong message on the economy here in our home state? Because Elkhart, once Indiana’s economic powerhouse, has experienced the loss of jobs in the recreational vehicle industry. The city now posts a 15.3-percent unemployment rate, as gas prices and environmental warnings about fossil fuel emissions have caused consumers to analyze their buying practices.
Repeating the same old philosophy and policy toward every facet of life is not going to pull us back into a healthy condition. There are urgent warnings for us to rethink the basic premises that drove our country to become the leader it was. Bigger is not always better, and more of something can actually become less. Old lines of responsibility don’t necessarily apply in the new inter-related ‘global living room.’
We can receive all the heady proposals from the world’s top leaders and get heaps of financial stimulation from institutions, but if we as individuals don’t get fired up about the regrouping we need to do, it is all for not in the long run.
A headline from the Associated Press this past week read: ‘Number of small farms in Indiana grows 79 percent over 5 years.’ It may seem like a small thing, but I find it a beacon of hope, as I inferred that people are opening their eyes and looking for new opportunities.
We can become innovative and redirect our efforts and actual energies, and in the process, more than meet the needs of all living things.
As Thomas Friedman says in his book: ‘Now, we have to reinvent ourselves one more time. Making America the world’s greenest country is not a selfless act of charity or na’ve moral indulgence. It is now a core national security and economic interest.’
Let’s pass this book around to each other. It is not somebody else’s story ‘ it is our Southern Indiana saga.