Maybe you saw the insane numbers? Eighty-five degrees at seven in the morning, 119 degrees by noon (in June!), planes unable to fly in the heat, tap water coming out hot, pavement so boiling it instantly destroys skin, jokes about “but it’s a dry heat” getting immediately annoying, millions of people wondering, for the umpteenth time, why the hell they live in Phoenix anyway and hey isn’t South India pleasant this time of year?
Just another early summer heatwave, right? Except it’s not. Except this one, like so many before it, is different, earlier, longer-lasting and more intense and more common than ever before on human record, as records have fallen everywhere from San Jose to Sacramento and as a new study shows that one in three people now experience 20 days per year when the heat reaches deadly levels, and there is every indication that it’s all just going to get far worse, far more quickly than anyone imagined.
“The United States is going to be an oven,” said Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii, lead author of a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change . “This is already bad. We already know it. The empirical data suggest it’s getting much worse.”
This much we know: Trumpites and related climate-denying trolls are now utterly irrelevant to any real scientific conversation. There is no “debate” regarding the facts of climate science, whether or not climate change might be happening or whether or not humankind might have had an effect on creating and accelerating it. This is like giving equal time to both sides of a “debate” about whether brain cancer is bad for you or not.
There is now only the continuous thrum of ominous, terrifying new data, study after study and measurement after statistic rushing forth, proving it’s all happening faster than the models predicted, with ominous cracks appearing in once-permanent ice sheets, massive coral reefs bleaching and dying, oceans turning more acidic, et al; not only should the world get used to lots more lethal, Phoenix-style heat (and extreme weather of all kinds, from freezes to hurricanes to extreme droughts), by the time 2100 rolls around, without an immediate, extreme reduction in CO2 emissions, upwards of 75 percent of the human population could be facing temperatures so sweltering as to be unsustainable, unlivable, doomed.
But, you know, big deal, right? Nothing to be done about it. Might as well shrug, sigh and buy a better air conditioner at Costco, because Trump has proven he’s an anti-intellectual, anti-scientific imbecile of the highest order, doesn’t care a whit for health, nature or convulsing ecosystems, thinks coal is neat and the Paris Climate Accord is bad for the pesticide industry.
His moronism is matched only by the GOP’s ongoing prostration to his warped and sickened mind, as meanwhile EPA chief Scott “to hell with your kids” Pruitt just released dozens more experts from the agency’s esteemed Board of Scientific Counselors, part of the ongoing gutting of all protections for the U.S. and the planet, from its number one, all-time greatest producer of pollution and greenhouse gasses.
In short, the odds of the U.S. pushing hard for a serious reduction in CO2 emissions isn’t just zero – it’s actually moving into the negative; everything the Trump administration is doing – or rather, not doing – will merely accelerate the planet’s decimation. And they care not a whit.
If there’s any hope to be found, it’s in the fact that, despite Trump’s psychosis, many of Obama’s landmark environmental moves cannot be reversed completely. What’s more, sustainable energy is already becoming a huge economic driver, coal is never coming back, most mega-corporations already taking significant steps to cut back on excessive energy use and pollution (out of concern for lost profits, of course, not for any real concern for planetary health), and that countries like China will now take the lead on climate change, leaving the U.S. a rather pathetic follower, when it was once a leading voice.
But truth is, it’s getting harder and harder to be reassured when you can’t easily breathe and your body struggles to find equilibrium in the heat (or drought, or extreme cold), and your skin will instantly peel from your flesh if you walk barefoot on the pavement.
Welcome to summer, America! Bring extra rosé.