Hot Enough for You? Record-breaking temperatures, more extreme heat. Telling ourselves we can adapt is just wishful thinking
When I lived in Texas I was fascinated by all the different ways people had of greeting one another. The one-finger hi-dy. A tip of the gimme cap. The Longhorn hook. And all through those six-month summers: Hot enough for ya?
It is no longer a laughable greeting. I am waiting, desperately, for the moment when we collectively ask ourselves: Hot enough yet? In June, we saw the smashing of heat records in more than a dozen states. Since January, 21,402 daily temperature records have been set. A severe and deadly thunderstorm left at least 3 million people from Indiana to Virginia without power for days — as temperatures continued to hit triple digits. In one of the hottest places in the country, Hill City, Kans., the heat reached 115 degrees; farmers burned their hands on hot tools and fainted in fields. The heat also had devastating consequences for crops and cattle.
(PHOTOS: Extreme Heat: 10 Locations with Tough Temperatures)
Extreme temperatures are feeding monstrous events like floods and fires. A swath of the West is incinerating itself: eight fires burned in Utah; 244 sq. mi. are blazing in Montana; 1,000 acres were scorched in Idaho; and a two-mile wall of flame burned its way down the backside of a Colorado ridge, becoming the largest fire in the history of that state. These are hellish, deadly fires — and there will be more and more of them.
What kind of record smashing will it take for people to understand that we have entered a period of accelerated global warming and must demand action? We are well into the presidential campaign season, and neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama has seriously addressed this urgent issue. In fact, Romney has been downright cynical, and Obama has been negligent. We, the people, are letting them off the hook. It is time for voters to demand a plan of action.