advertisement
advertisement

An Old-School Solution to Western Drought: Praying For Rain

In the midst of the worst dry spell in a century, churches and water managers are now working together. But while no one is discounting the power of prayer, politicians need to embrace the reality of climate change, too.

An Old-School Solution to Western Drought: Praying For Rain
[Image: Dry Land via Shutterstock]
advertisement
advertisement

The last 14 years have been the driest in a century for the American West. It’s not a fluke–most experts think this may be something of a new normal. A normal in which there are cut backs, for the first time, in water releases from the crucial Colorado River reservoir, Lake Powell.

advertisement

Water managers have seen this coming, and there is no shortage of proposals for coping, from simple water conservation (the cheapest) to a 300-mile pipeline to bring water to Las Vegas from an aquifer on the Utah border. But not everyone wants to put their faith in technology, and some religious leaders are now doing what they do best: praying.

Oklahoma’s Association of Conservation Districts has teamed up with churches for “Interfaith Days of Prayer for Rain and Water Stewardship.” The next one is on September 18th. From their website:

Mark your calendar and join Oklahomans across the state as we come together to lift our prayers to the heavens and ask that the heavens, in turn, be opened up and bring this time of severe drought to an end. As we come together in our places of worship on these days, we also build our community, and as a community, we can learn how to be better caretakers of this Earth.

Praying for rain is, of course, nothing new–in the West or otherwise–and it certainly couldn’t hurt. But in the West, it’s seemed like an all-too-literal Hail Mary, when put forward by politicians who dare not speak the name “climate change.” This was most infamously the case in 2011, when Texas Governor Rick Perry designated three days in April “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas”: “I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on those days for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities, and the restoration of our normal way of life.”

Given that more than one in five water systems in Texas are cutting back in order to have enough for all, it seems Perry’s prayers have yet to be answered.

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a print, radio and video journalist, regularly reporting for WNYC and NPR. He grew up in New Mexico.

More