Yesterday, I ventured out to reconnect with the non-human created world at one of my favorite nearby gardens. I was reminded viscerally of how hot it has been in Florida this summer. We usually get 90° temperatures for weeks but this year there are fewer afternoon rains to cool the evenings. It seems as though we started this “heat wave” months earlier than other years.
The world is consumed with worries about the current pandemic, and rightly so. However, other world crises still need our attention and action, for example, the effects of global warming on our health, economy, and food supply.
This morning, a brief excerpt from the New York Times presented some sobering facts about our warming world:
- In the past 60 years, every decade has been hotter than the last, and 2020 is on track to be among the hottest years yet. But the burden of extreme heat is not shared equally — it’s significantly worse for people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
- Extreme heat can exacerbate poor health, ravage crops and make it dangerous to work outside. And in many parts of the world, simple ways to alleviate those effects — like water, or electricity for fans and air-conditioners — are a luxury.
- In Athens, heat waves have increased fivefold over the last century.
- Diminished rains and longer dry seasons are destroying Guatemala’s farmlands, where Indigenous farmers could see crop yields fall sharply.
- In Nigeria, hotter nights make it easier for mosquitoes to breed, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
- In the United States, heat kills older people more than any other extreme weather event, including hurricanes.
In one of the final chapters of Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer cautions us:
We do indeed stand at the crossroads. Scientific evidence tells us we are close to the tipping point of climate change, the end of fossil fuels, the beginning of resource depletion. Ecologists estimate that we would need seven planets to sustain the lifeways we have created. And yet those lifeways, lacking balance, justice, and peace, have not brought us contentment. They have brought us the loss of our relatives in a great wave of extinction. Whether or not we want to admit it, we have a choice ahead, a crossroads. (p. 368)
According to the New York Times research, what do experts recommend to combat rising temperatures?
- Draw down the combustion of fossil fuels. The world is capable of getting off coal in many instances, capable of vastly reducing the burning of oil and gas.
- Make water, air-conditioners, and fans more accessible.
- Plant trees to bring down temperatures in cities.
- Adjust labor laws so people don’t have to work for hours under the blistering sun.
- Change agricultural methods or what is grown in what place to adapt to higher temperatures.
- In short, do everything pretty differently.
I would add a couple recommendations of my own:
- Make just environmental policies a priority in voting people into (or out of) office.
- Read reports of scientific data and not merely opinion pieces.
- Divest of fossil fuel companies in your retirement accounts.
- Try to endure a day of hot weather without using air-conditioning. (It’s now 90° outside and 82° inside, and it’s only 11:00 am!)
- Drive less and walk more.
Q. What recommendations are you able and willing to try?
Q. What are your own recommendations for slowing the pace of global warming