The Moore tornado and every parent's worst nightmare



Sue Ogrocki/<a href="">Yahoo News</a>

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 91 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.

This post originally appeared on the Moms Clean Air Force blog.

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Dominique Browning

Dominique Browning

Dominique is the co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force and its lead blogger. She is a writer and editor — and the mother of two sons. She writes regularly for the New York Times Book Review, and contributes to WWiredWhole Living, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications.

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It’s been 28 years of this climate change debate stalling CO2 mitigation so why doesn’t science just end the debate and say their climate crisis (what could be worse) is certain and inevitable not just “likely” and “possible” and “maybe” a real crisis? “Help my planet could be on fire maybe!” is unsustainable so science needs to step in and say a climate crisis is or isn’t as real as they say comet hits are; “inevitable” not just “could be”.