A few of the recent headlines …
Heat Wave Grips Northeast U.S.
Dangerous Heat Wave Hitting U.S. Over Fourth of July Weekend
UK Weather Forecast: Summer 2018 To Be Hottest Ever
Town Hit By Major Freak Flooding in the Midst of a National Heat Wave
And the list goes on. In my city, it has been over 90° F (32° C) and with heat index factored in, has hit 104° F (40° C) for the past four days. A check with The Weather Channel shows that there is very little, if any relief in sight at least through July 15th, another two weeks. The average temperatures here in the two hottest months, July & August, are typically 86° and 87° with rarely more than 3-4 days over 90°. I remember a few years that there were no 90-degree days all summer! Humidity has been between 56% – 99% for the past several days.Funny thing about all of this, though … nobody seems to be too concerned beyond the inconvenience of being uncomfortable, having trouble breathing and/or sleeping, and worrying about seeing next month’s electric bill. I haven’t once heard mention of that forbidden phrase … climate change. I haven’t heard any others express my own concern, that this is how summers will be from now on. For the past two winters, we have barely had any snowfall. Last year saw a record number of intense hurricanes, including three Category 5 hurricanes, Harvey, Irma & Maria, that together caused over $281 billion in damage!
When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, he had already made it known that he believed climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”. He then nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt had already sued the EPA thirteen times while he served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General! And now, as EPA Administrator, he has climbed into bed with the fossil fuel industry, hidden his agenda from the public eye, falsified records, spent taxpayer monies recklessly and on personal items, engaged in unethical activities and in short, been one of the most corrupt cabinet members in history! The one thing he has not done, is address the most serious issue facing our environment, climate change.
In June 2015, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, saying that “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy, and puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.” In keeping with that philosophy, he has rescinded, via ‘executive order’, a large number of regulations and safeguards that were put into place to regulate CO2 emissions, water standards, chemical toxicity, wildlife and national park protections, and the list goes on.
Now, it is not my intention to say that because Trump has given free rein to coal and oil companies, that is the reason we are sweltering. However, I do say that unless this nation, the only one on the globe that is not remaining in the Paris Accord, takes responsibility for doing its share to take care of the planet, we will continue to see the effects that we are seeing and they will only continue to multiply. The predictions of the climate scientists are being realized even sooner than they anticipated.
Despite the losses of life and property during last year’s hurricane season, despite the nearly unbearable extended heat wave both in the U.S. and across the pond, people seem to be oblivious. I don’t see people leaving their cars at home, taking a bus or walking to their destination. The lady across the street from me even starts her car and drives her bag of trash to the dumpster at the end of the street! And no, she is not disabled, but is more ‘abled’ than I am, while I walk my trash to the dumpster! The end result is that people are much more concerned with things such as jobs, the economy, health care, taxes and other things that they can see affecting their own lives on a day-to-day basis.
This explains in part why it has been so easy for the current bunch in Washington to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about climate change, for it is seen as having more long-term than immediate effects, and also the science is not well understood among those of us who are non-scientists. One has to take much on faith, believing that the men and women who have the education and have spent most of their lives studying the earth and environment know of what they speak. And, of course, part of the resistance to climate change is the convenience factor, for once you acknowledge that human behaviours are destroying the environment, it is hard to argue against changing those behaviours.Another part of the reason that people are failing to sit up and take notice, I think, is that lackadaisical attitude that “somehow things will work out … they always do”. I imagine the dinosaurs believed much the same once upon a time, eh?
It is encouraging that some states and cities in the U.S., as well as some corporations are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps toward being more environmentally responsible. It is encouraging to see that in 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation. But it isn’t enough. The U.S. is not only letting its own citizens down, but is letting every man, woman and child on the globe down, for this is a global problem, not a local one. The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country. Yet while we are a big part of the problem, we refuse to be a part of the solution.
This summer’s high temperatures and humidity will lead to increased energy use as air-conditioners run non-stop in homes and businesses. People will drive their cars more, rather than walk, and run the a/c in the car, thereby using more fuel … more polluting fuel. What does it take to wake people up to the fact that we are very likely bringing about the extinction of the human race, and unlike the dinosaurs, who did not have the ability to control their fate, we have a choice. Perhaps we cannot force Donald Trump to care about the earth, to care about our survival, but we can get the knuckle-draggers out of Congress and elect people who care enough to do something. AND … we can do something. We can combine trips so we drive less, turn our thermostats up (or down in winter), turn off lights, conserve energy in any way possible. It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by factories, office buildings and big trucks, but every little bit counts. WE MUST WAKE UP!!!
A few informative links, if you’re interested:
- Human influence on climate change will fuel more extreme heat waves in US
- Heat Waves and Climate Change
- With rising greenhouse gases, U.S. heat waves to become more common & longer-lasting (an older article — 2012 — but still very relevant)