A song and prayer for rain on a hot spring day in Ojai

In the first chapter of the climate book that caught the imagination of The Guardian (and myself), called This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues that we are entering an era of climate change cognitive dissonance:

Meanwhile, each supercharged natural disaster produces new irony-laden snapshots of a climate increasingly inhospitable to the very industries most responsible for its warming. Like the 2013 historic floods in Calgary that forced the head offices of the oil companies mining the Alberta tar sands to go dark and send their employees home, while a train carrying flammable petroleum products teetered on the edge of a disintegrating rail bridge. Or the drought that hit the Mississippi River one year earlier, pushing water levels so low that barges loaded with oil and coal were unable to move for days, while they waited for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a channel (they had to appropriate funds allocated to rebuild from the previous year’s historic flooding along the same waterway). Or the coal-fired power plants in other parts of the country that were temporarily shut down because the waterways that they draw on to cool their machinery were either too hot or too dry (or, in some cases, both).

Living with this kind of cognitive dissonance is simply part of being alive in this jarring moment in history, when a crisis we have been studiously ignoring is hitting us in the face—and yet we are doubling down on the stuff that is causing the crisis in the first place.

Another example of this cognitive dissonance:, but without the industrial irony: a rain prayer from a native elder, Julie Tumamait, on a record-setting day of heat in SoCal. Yes it reached 94 degrees on March 14 in Ojai, and yet indefatigable Tumamait and her brother Pat and many supporters and even a Shinto priest connected to the Ojai Foundation came out to a local park to pray for rain, each according to their own tradition:


What was touching about the song and prayer to me was "the ask" for water for our streams and rivers, for our "winged people and rooted people and finned people," for lizards and men and women and birds and all creatures alike, so that we all could have a drink. Not just human municipalities, farmers, and homeowners, but for all those who live on and about and in the land itself.  

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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