If you live in the western half of the United States or follow U.S. news, you know that the west is experiencing a severe heat wave right now. It’s 95ºF right now at 2PM. People tend to judge climate issues by the standards of their own locale, and that’s not always applicable to other areas. So I thought it could be useful to clarify what’s going on here.
The real problem isn’t the heat. It’s the fire danger and the drought. Because of the Pacific Ocean, the air near the coast where I live (about 30 miles inland, on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains from the ocean) cools off pretty well at night, even during a heat wave. I went for a run this morning at 8AM and it was a comfortable dry 69ºF degrees when I started. This is very different from last summer when I went through a similar heat wave in Austin, Texas while visiting family. It doesn’t cool off overnight and it’s much more humid there. So it was more uncomfortable. I don’t even have air conditioning in my house. I can keep it tolerable just by opening up the windows and skylights overnight or early morning, then closing up tight during the day. So I don’t deserve your sympathy right now.
Climate change is real and I’m sorry that it has somehow been made political. Thermometers are instruments, not liberals or conservatives. The change is measurable and the connection to carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases is undeniable and inescapable, although some will deny it. That whole range of issues is political because so much of our economy is tied up in autos and fossil fuels, which means money and livelihoods to so many.
At the moment there are no huge forest fires burning, but I expect the next several months to produce many. The air will be a major problem for millions and even worse will be the loss of homes, maybe lives, for those who live in the danger areas. I don’t foresee any of this changing until something redresses the overarching environmental, economic, and political problem of humankind: overpopulation. What we really need is for most of us to die.