Major disasters such as floods can bring out the best in us: our help-thy-neighbor tendencies. But concern, worry, distress, loss and frustration also inevitably lead to finger pointing and blaming.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has said that hard questions need to be asked of the Army Corps of Engineers for their handling or possible mishandling of the Missouri River situation.
If finger pointing is to be done, however, it should be all of us pointing at ourselves. We are all collectively to blame, except for those very few Americans who are off the grid and have not contributed to general warming conditions.
We've been living as if our behaviors have no consequences. And we here on the prairie should know better. We learned the hard way back in the 1930s with the dust bowl, and we no longer farm the same way.
Yet we want to deny that our life style of high energy use affects the environment.
Recently reported evidence from the Rockies, however, exposes this denial and gives us perhaps the best explanation for this year's flooding: an unusually high snowfall and an unusually quick snowpack melt.
This combination of high snowfall and quick snow melt has overwhelmed the dam system that was built years back before global warming effects were factored in. Once again, as in the 1930s, we are learning the hard way.
For a June 10 account of the recent Rockies snowpack study, go to (npr.org) and type in "Thinning Snows In Rockies," and you can listen to and read about the U.S. Geological Survey.
According to Greg Pederson of the Survey, the warming trend they found means that precipitation over the mountains is more often falling as rain instead of snow, and when it does fall as snow, it's melting more quickly.
And it's not just Rockies' snow mass or polar icecaps that are melting faster than usual; it's also snowpack up north that feeds into rivers such as the Mouse.
Thawing is happening differently now, faster, more all at once, and the unusual combination of heavy snowfall and quicker snowmelt is more than our flood control system was designed to handle.
In evaluating the current flooding, we need to factor in global warming. The evidence suggests that the "perfect storm" we are experiencing is not just Mother Nature's doing; we've all had a hand in creating it.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)