This week there was a record setting “heat dome” over Phoenix, Arizona which had 18 consecutive days of temperatures above 110°F. An estimated 50 million plus people living in a band from Southern California through Florida faced deadly levels of heat. In Hermosillo, Mexico, the temperature hit 121°F. According to one resident, “It was like I was being thrown balls of fire. Ocean temperatures were measured at 90°F off the coast of Miami where the heat index was above 105°F.
Last week Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday each set a record for the hottest day in Earth’s history for as far back as scientists can measure. In Beijing, China the government ordered a stop to outdoor work because of the soaring temperatures. In April, global ocean temperature soared to 70°F and last month was the warmest June on record. The planet has warmed by an average of 1.2°C compared with preindustrial levels. Antarctic sea ice is shrinking and on June 27 it was almost 1 million square miles less than the average for that date from 1981-2010. Ice four times the size of Texas has disappeared.
Climate change does not just bring record heat. Record high temperatures in Canada, including 100F in the Arctic Northwest Territories, exacerbated an unprecedented wildfire crisis. A record 22.7 million acres have burned so far, and the wildfire season still has months to go. On July 3, there were 67 active fires in Quebec Province, three out of control and 25 considered high priority. As a result of smoke drifting south from Canada in June, New York City had the second worst air quality of any country in the world. In Washington, D.C., air quality was more than 20 times worse that levels recommended by the World Health Organization.
As a result of climate change and the new normal of extreme weather events, New York’s Hudson Valley was hit with such severe rain that it suffered what Governor Hochul called a once in a thousand-year flood. Homes were flooded, thousands of people lost electricity, roads and highways were closed, and train service was suspended as tracks were inundated with water and debris and in some places, supports were washed away. In neighboring Vermont, heavy rains flooded the state capital and forced the closing of the downtown area. People were rescued from their homes by kayak. The Japanese island of Kyushu also had record rain and flooding.
Scientists have concluded that the Holocene, the geological era that started about 11,700 years ago and made possible human civilization has ended. They call the new geological era marked by fossil fuels, the greenhouse effect and global warming the Anthropocene, an era marked by human-made impacts to the Earth.
It may not be too late to reverse or at least minimize the impact of global warming and climate change, but it may be. In January 2019, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, climate activist Greta Thunberg warned that according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, humanity was less than 12 years away from a tipping point where it would no longer be able to undo ecological mistakes. That was already four years ago, and the clock is ticking. Our house is on fire and there may be only eight years left.
Meanwhile, every Republican in the House and Senate voted against the Inflation Adjustment Act that detailed resources to address climate change. Now Republicans in the House of Representatives are trying to block funds for climate action that was already approved. At this point, the vote of any Republican candidate for any office is a vote to make the planet uninhabitable. Long Islands Republican Representatives, Nick LaLota, Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D’Esposito, and George Santos should be flooded, no pun intended, with messages from constituents demanding that they support climate action of face defeat in the next election cycle.