Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out of the Frying Pan...

A soaring wall of thunderheads just passed overhead, rumbling and flashing but not raining one-tenth as much as I expected.

Nonetheless, it broke the back of that psyche-shattering heat wave we’ve been mired in. Check this out: my kids have been given half-days off to avoid the heat. Early June and it feels like the dog days of August.

So the last two days here, parents have been lining up at school carpool queues to pick up their little charges, not wanting them to swelter on the long bus trip. And the cars—all those Suburbans and Tahoes—sit there, engines idling, air conditioners on full, waiting to whisk kids home to central air turned all the way up.

It’s ironic: as the heat climbs, power usage escalates—or in your Cadillac, it Escalades. As usage climbs, we burn more fossil fuels cooling down, and greenhouse gas emissions rise, forming a positive feedback loop. The hotter it gets, the more power we consume; the more power we consume, the hotter it gets. And carbon dioxide concentrations keep ratcheting up.

Two weeks from now, I expect we’ll hear this is one of the hottest Junes ever. Meanwhile, just last week, Congress punted on a climate change bill that, imperfectly unexplainable as it might have been, would at least have been a statement. Those who filibustered claim combating climate change is too “costly.”

Maybe, but tell that to a farmer with scorched corn.

Thankfully, both McCain and Obama take climate change seriously, so we’ll see what happens next year. (Meanwhile, Chevy is abandoning Tahoes and Suburbans for the emission-free electric Volt. Now there’s progress.)

But at some point, like with the war effort, we’re going to begin to need to make some personal sacrifices to cool the climate. We continue wanting to have our cake and eat it too, but the oven doesn’t work anymore.

Still, the heat wave broke. Tomorrow’s high will only be 89. Whew.

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