Our Sizzling Planet

A recent study published in the journal Nature clearly stated that severe heat waves are now four times as likely to occur because of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This summer's miserable heat and extreme weather are going to be the norm.

Las Vegas last week had a low of 95 degrees. Casper, Wyoming, tied its highest temperature ever with a reading of 104 degrees. The temperature in Denver last Wednesday reached 105 degrees (making it the hottest day there since 1878). Power grids across the United States are reporting record usage (power shortage, here I come). And just look at what's happening in India, where that country's heaviest-ever rainfall has killed close to 800 people.

Officials in the National Weather Service estimate that more than 200 heat records have been broken in the United States in the past two weeks alone. As a deadly heat wave grips much of the nation, U.S. weather forecasters remain in a state of denial about the connection to global warming. Las Vegas meteorologist Andy Bailey was quoted in the New York Times as saying "this is the most intense heat wave the city has ever seen." I wonder what the date will be on Mr. Bailey’s first broadcast acknowledging that the high temperatures are a result of global warming?

And who knew about airplanes and heat waves? Apparently you can't fly if the temperature gets too high, and dozens of flights were cancelled around the country. Maybe that will get someone's attention: cancelled flights are pretty inconvenient. And now we need to add to the popular vernacular the heat wave equivalent of SNOW DAYS, as the blistering heat cancelled summer school classes in Philadelphia.

The death count from the heat is mounting...and it's only July. Those dying are not just homeless people, but people of all ages and income levels, including a 29-year-old hiker in Kentucky, a 40-year-old woman in Ohio, children in Oklahoma and a very healthy marathon runner in Europe. And let’s also add to the list animals at risk, including 1,200 cattle deaths in Nebraska this summer. The Times article I mentioned had an ironic first sentence, calling the current problem "a relentless and lethal blanket of heat that has settled on much of the western United States” –- which is exactly the definition of global warming. The carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere and surrounds the planet like a giant heavy blanket, which traps in the heat. Seems to me a pretty obvious connection that the New York Times should be pointing out...along with our trusted weather forecasters.

Join the Virtual March on Washington and let our leaders know we want our country to start addressing this problem now. Because otherwise we will continue full steam ahead in the wrong direction...just this week, the administration's answer to global warming has been to hide from the public an EPA report on plummeting fuel efficiency, in order to pass an energy bill that provides billions to the fossil fuel barons and encourages continuing carbon pollution. Let's wake up, America...we need some good old moral outrage!