By Joe Romm
4 August 2011

In light of the sustained drought, Governor Mary Fallin today asked all Oklahomans to set aside time this Sunday, July 17, to pray for rain.

That was two weeks ago.  The result is that Oklahoma went from the drought condition on the right to the one on the left in just two short weeks:

U.S. Drought Monitor maps for Oklahoma, comparing the drought severity on 18 July 2011 with that on 2 August 2011. Joe Romm /

Yes, in a mere two weeks, another 30% of the state went into extreme or exceptional drought!  Now the entire state is under severe drought or worse.

For some reason, science-denying southern Republican governors keep returning to one particular ineffectual ‘adaptation’ strategy:  “Texas Drought Now Far, Far Worse Than When Gov. Rick Perry Issued Proclamation Calling on All Texans to Pray for Rain“ (7/15/11).

And speaking of Gov. Perry, who apparently is edging closer and closer to a presidential run, his state has been utterly devastated since his proclamation.  Texas A&M reports:

As Texas continues to bake in record heat, the drought news for the state continues to be bleak – Texas is now in the midst of its most severe one-year drought on record, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. … 

Nielsen-Gammon explains [,] “Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses.”

The Texas drought monitor is as shockingly blood-red as its reservoirs:

U.S. Drought Monitor map for Texas, 2 August 2011. Over 90 percent of the state is in 'Exceptional' or 'Extreme' drought. Joe Romm /

Of course, we don’t really have any short-term strategies to address extreme weather.  In the longer term, prayer would appear to be a non-optimal approach, given Texas’s and Oklahoma’s experience.

The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said

Sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, however, would seem our best hope of sharply reducing the prospects that the Southwest becomes a permanent dust bowl.  It also has the benefit of  science underpinning it. […]

Oklahoma Drought Now Far Worse Than When Gov. Mary Falin Asked All Oklahomans to Pray for Rain via Under the Mountain Bunker


  1. Anonymous said...

    The invisible Sky God doesn't seem to be home.

    There have been a number of studies performed on the effectiveness of praying, all reporting the same results: there is no difference between praying and not praying, they both achieve the same exact results.

    So this means one of two things:

    a) There's nobody home;
    b) He's not listening.

    Only option b) is worth a further look. If He's not listening, why not? Since we cannot determine what any reason might actually be (the "will" of God to allow drought, cause suffering and hardship, destroy crops, or whatever the "reason" might be), we must concentrate on the other point, He's not listening.

    If He's not listening, why not? Has He hardened his ears to our pleas?

    Actually, the obvious answer to this is yes, He has. Our pleas and prayers go unanswered (to wit, Cheney is still alive for example and not yet rotting in Hell). There are countless billions of other examples that could be readily shown.

    We can look around the world and see massive amounts of human suffering. In spite of billions of prayers unceasingly offered up to the heavens each and every single day, the suffering still continues unabated. And in point of fact, like the drought, it has gotten significantly worse.

    So it is now clear, that the God of humankind is simply not listening.

    Maybe He's deaf. Or somehow unable to hear us. I am unsure what this means however, if God is deaf, then how can audible prayer offer anything anyway?

    But does that also make Him blind?

    Apparently so. Anyone with eyes to see can witness the suffering going on and the extreme need for divine intervention on a myriad of issues and problems.

    For thousand of years humankind has suffered mightily at the hands of each other and events of the natural kind (earthquake, pestilence, floods, etc.) and to this very day, we continue to suffer despite billions of prayers seeking otherwise.

    Doesn't God see this and even if He is actually deaf, can't He still intervene?

    But His blindness is also evident. Which then can only mean one of two things:

    a) There's nobody home;
    b) He's deaf and blind.

    Only option b) is worth exploring any further. If He is deaf and blind, why then does He not at least speak to us? Many claim to speak on His behalf for Him.

    Most of these claims have all been well-proven to be dead wrong, misguided or openly or secretly self-serving. We've come to not actually trust any of those that claim to speak on His behalf. Or if we do, we must keep a firm hand on our wallets (and our sons and daughters).

    Why doesn't He then speak to us Himself? He has never done this for some strange reason. Some have claimed to hear His voice, but none have been able to actually prove that this is true. Some of these people have been locked away.

    This then can only mean one thing:

    a) There's nobody home.

    The evidence for God's existence and the efficacy of prayer is very easy to digest. While prayer can and does help human suffering, exhibiting both compassion, concern and comfort for those afflicted, it does not alleviate the actual and real suffering which we endure.

    The claims that God actually does in fact exist are found to be false, since there is nothing there but a deaf, blind and mute no-show entity that does nothing at all for His followers.

    All we have left then, is ourselves. We turn to religious practices and doctrine to comfort the sorrow in our hearts and the sufferings of our bodies.

    But in the end, it all remains the same: it is just us. It has always been just us, and it still is just us to this very day.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Nobody has yet been able to prove first contact, but hey, that could still happen one day and then we'd not be so all alone, but until then folks, it's just us. It always has been.

    This is why politicians and pundits, radio talk show hosts and preachers, televangelists and sidewalk nutcases all have this one thing in common: their prayers NEVER work and they never, ever will.

    Nor will yours I'm afraid. But if it does make you feel better, then by all means go ahead, just don't do it on national television or in front of the school or anything like that, we don't need to give the kids the wrong idea. Just keep it to yourself. Don't pray out loud either, you might be mistook for one of those sidewalk early-release individuals let out by mistake.


    The rest of us have already come to understand that you are simply consoling yourself when you pray. We're okay with that, really. Just keep it down for your own sake (and safety). Sometimes I talk to myself too.

    Just know that divine intervention is not coming. We're on our own here, despite all the unprovable claims to the contrary.  

  3. Anonymous said...

    @Anonymous: In fact there are several double-blind studies which show that prayer significantly impacts recovery from cancer and other illnesses for the better, no matter what religion the pray-er and even when they don't know each other. Clearly it isn't working for weather, but I'm not certain that's a bulletproof argument for atheism. I put it in the free will category: there's science; if humans chose to ignore it and heat up the earth, that's our choice and not Gods' fault(punctuation intentional). I don't understand blaming the gods for the cruelties inflicted by people.  

  4. Anonymous said...

    Who says Cheney is or ever was alive?  

  5. Jim said...

    Anonymous: In fact there are several double-blind studies which show that prayer significantly impacts recovery from cancer and other illnesses for the better, no matter what religion the pray-er and even when they don't know each other.

    This isn't how I remember the state of the art in prayer experimentation; the last two big studies showed no effect. Refreshing my memory with Wikipedia's Studies on intercessory prayer, this seems to be the case still: "...the 2005 MANTRA study and the 2006 STEP project both ... strongly support the conclusion that intercessory prayer is not effective."

    Obviously, experimental design is a serious obstacle, and if we're testing the behavior of an assumed intelligent agent, any outcome is arbitrary, because the agent can choose whatever outcome it desires.  


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