In the Heat of the Night. And Day.


It’s so hot.

By Joey Kennedy

It is hot. Really, really hot.

At times this summer, the heat index in Birmingham has approached 110 degrees. That’s how it feels when the temps and humidity combine to give us a feels-like temperature. The heat index has been even higher in other parts of the state.

And it’s not just in Alabama. Some friends who live in Las Vegas experienced 110-degree-plus temperatures. That’s not the “feels-like” temperature, but the actual temperature. Don’t think it’s a dry heat, either. With the resumption of monsoon rains out west, the humidity is skyrocketing as well. To top it off, the Las Vegas area was hit with a plague of grasshoppers; millions of the insects descended on Nevada in clouds so large, they were visible on weather radar and harassed gamblers on the Strip.

And it’s not just in the United States. Temperatures across Europe have set records this year. As climate reporter Eddie Burkhalter reported for Alabama Political Reporter, “July was the hottest month since mankind began keeping records more than a century ago, according to a European Union climate program. Two blistering heatwaves across Western Europe in June and July accelerated the melting of  Greenland’s ice sheet, sending 197 billion tons of water into the North Atlantic in July alone … One billion tons of melting ice corresponds to about 400,000 Olympic size swimming pools … The July melt alone could fill 79 million pools.”

Let’s bring this down to an even more human level: It’s so damn hot, my wife and I can’t even sit on our front porch, even in the early evening, because of the heat and humidity.

The gazillion-dollar question: What are we going to do about it?

The United Nations climate report (officially known as the “The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C [SR15]” and published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Oct. 8, 2018.) says the world has about 12 years to change the way it treats the climate before the tipping point is reached. And that was last year!

The problem in the United States: Our leaders, mostly guided by President Donald Trump, believe climate change is a hoax. Trump took us out of the Paris Climate Accord shortly after entering office. He rejects the U.N. climate report almost out of hand. This is a report that includes more than 6,000 scientific references prepared by 91 authors from 40 countries.

But, of course, Trump knows better.

We ignore what we see before us at our own peril.

Because I’m the curious sort, I wondered what the real impact of these climate changes will be. Won’t we simply adjust? Turn up the air-conditioners? After all, we need our carbon-based energies, right?

The worst-case scenario is awful. The U.N. climate report this year says world-wide hunger, many times more grim than we see today, will expand. The amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere now will make what food is grown less nutritious. That’s food.

We’ll also see more devastating weather – worse hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, storms, tornados. We’ve already witnessed some of this, as thousand-year floods and hundred-year cyclones occur at a much more rapid rate than a thousand or a hundred years.

Iceland is not only seeing its ice sheet melt, but is experiencing its worst wildfires ever. Period.

Finally, as Dr. James McClintock, UAB’s Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology, has repeatedly documented, acidification is increasing across the world’s oceans, and that’s even more difficult to turn around than the amounts of carbon dioxide we continue to spew into the atmosphere.

Google all of this. It’s easy to find. It’s also scary. Not just the results of climate change and a warming atmosphere, but it’s also scary how climate change deniers, against all objective science, make ridiculous claims that would be laughable if the problems weren’t so serious.

The rise in the seas is not caused by rocks falling into the ocean, as U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama claimed in 2018: “Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said.

Brooks also claims that the ice sheet in Antarctica is actually increasing. Dr. McClintock, who has spent decades studying in Antarctica in person, might disagree with that.

It’s hot out there, folks. We’re witnessing climate change in real time. We can put our heads in the hot sand – and our current leaders are doing just that – or we can start working on ways to start turning this around or, at the very least, checking its devastating progress.

For now, Veronica and I will just have to forego the front porch and stay inside with the pugs.

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