Hurricane Sandy and climate change

Last week, ARRCC's President Thea Ormerod, wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald about the link between climate change and devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy. This week ARRCC invites people to join us in prayer for those who suffered the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.


We are ever mindful that these extreme weather events will become more intense and/or more frequent. As you may know, in the United States Hurricane Sandy affected at least 24 states, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York.

Not as well known is that:

  • Sandy left 70% of Jamaican residents without electricity, and caused about $55.23 million (2012 USD) in damage.
  • In Haiti, Sandy's outer bands brought flooding that killed at least 52, caused food shortages, and left about 200,000 homeless.
  • In Cuba, there was extensive coastal flooding and wind damage inland, destroying some 15,000 homes, killing 11, and causing $2 billion (2012 USD) in damage.
  • In The Bahamas, two died amid an estimated $300 million (2012 USD) in damage.

These are countries without a huge capacity to respond or adapt. Undoubtedly, people on low incomes in the USA are also worst off.

As people of faith we must do everything we can to keep climate change in check, with compassion for all those suffering but especially for those with fewer resources to recover. In the meantime, We'd like to circulate some prayers passed on to us by Greenfaith Australia, after receiving them from brothers and sisters at GreenFaith in the US.

This is a time to pray for those who suffered the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and those who are reaching out to help those left in need. We also encourage ARRCC supporters to consider donating to their preferred international disaster response agency to help their work in these countries.

Prayer for Protection from Winds and Excessive Rain

Oh Allah, let it be a mercy and not a punishment. Oh Allah, make it a beneficial and not destructive wind.

O Allah, let it pass us and not fall upon us, but upon the hills and mountains, and the center of the valleys, and upon the forested lands. (Bukhari and Muslim)


A Prayer for Healing and Strength in the Wake of a Storm

Adapted from a Prayer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - Worship Resources for Natural Disasters

Gracious God, you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, reveal your presence and make known your power so that all may know your healing, hope, and love. As one Body on earth, bound together by your grace, inspire us to pray faithfully, work courageously, and give sacrificially for the relief of all those who suffer. All which we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


A Prayer in the Aftermath of a Devastating Storm

By Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Elohei haRuchot, God of the Winds1,

Fixated as we are by incalculable losses in our families, our neighbors, human beings spanning national borders, we are pummeled into shock, barely even able to call out to You.

We are, as ever, called to share bread with the hungry, to take those who suffer into our homes, to clothe the naked, to not ignore our sisters and brothers2 Many more of our brothers and sisters are hungry, homeless, cold, and vulnerable today than were just a few days ago, and we need Your Help.

... God, be with us as we utilize every network at our disposal to support each other. Be with First Responders engaged in the work of rescue as they cradle lives new and old, sheltering our souls and bodies from the storm. Be with us and be with them, God.

Be with those awaiting news from loved ones, reeling from fire, water and wind that have crippled cities, decimated villages, and taken lives. Be with all of us, God.

Be with us God, comfort us, and support us as we rebuild that which has been lost.

May all this be Your will.


1 Numbers 27:16
2 adapted from Isaiah 58:6-7


A Buddhist Meditation in Time of Calamity

By Gwayla Longchempa

Assailed by afflictions, we discover Dharma
And find the way to liberation. Thank you, evil forces.

When sorrows invade the mind, we discover Dharma
And find lasting happiness. Thank you, sorrows! ...

Through cruel adversity, we discover Dharma
And find the unchanging way. Thank you, adversity.

We dedicate our merit to you all, to repay your kindness.


A Hindu Prayer for Peace and a Quiet Mind

From the Atharva Veda

Supreme Lord - let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere.
Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests.
Let the cosmic powers be peaceful.
Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful.
Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.


Letter to the editor by Thea Ormerod:

Seeing is believing

Letters, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Nov 2012

We are repeatedly reminded not to attribute any individual weather event to global warming ("A land of hurricanes and heroes", November 1). It's seen as "pushing" a climate change agenda. This is wearing incredibly thin. We've seen record floods in Queensland, Pakistan and Bangladesh, torrential downpours in Sydney, the worst ever drought in East Africa, a "snap drought" in parts of the USA and now Sandy the Frankenstorm. Blind Freddy can appreciate that extreme weather events are occurring much more frequently.

Eminent scientists like Professor Matthew England are telling us climate change may not be creating weather events like Sandy, but they sure-as-eggs are intensifying them. Isn't it the extreme nature of these events that is so devastating?

There's a T-shirt that says: "I'm not as smart as a climate scientist, but I'm smart enough to listen to them." That about sums it up.

Thea Ormerod, Kingsgrove


An IPS news article in America also explores the link between climate change and extreme weather events like Sandy, in more detail: 

Hurricane Sandy Fans Flames of Climate Change Debate

Rebecca Hanser, Inter Press Service, 1 Nov 2012

..."It's a probabilistic issue. You can't say that Sandy occurred because of climate change, but what you can say is that that such storms are much more likely to happen with contributing factors that include things directly related to climate change," Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at Environmental Defence Fund, told IPS. "Could Sandy have happened without climate change? Sure. Is it likely? No," Hamburg added.

David Biello, an environmental journalist and associate editor at Scientific American, agreed. "Global warming didn't spawn Sandy but it certainly contributed to the impact, with a couple of features definitely worsening it," he told IPS. "Higher sea surface temperatures have made the storm surge stronger," he explained. "Normally hurricanes come up to the coast and turn right back into the ocean, but as a consequence of the major meltdown of Arctic sea ice this summer, there was a weather pattern preventing Sandy from taking that course, and [it] steered it back into land."

One conclusion on which experts do agree is that the frequency and intensity of hurricanes like Sandy will increase over time...

Read the whole article >