We're having a heat wave,Once upon a time in America there was a nation called the United States, and that nation began building other nations.
A tropical heat wave,
The temperature's rising,
It isn't surprising
--Heat Wave, Irving Berlin
I'm not interested in friends from those places,
and I don't trust politicians!
--Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
The underprivileged are
beating our goddamned brains out
--Death Wish (1974)
In the morning
Fever all through the night
--Fever, Peggy Lee
This looked good -- democratic and generous -- except the outside building required the dismantling of the original nation. Think of the U.S. today as a Legoland or a Lincoln Logs house with most of the tile or logs used: To remove blocks threatens the integrity of the original structure. Such is the state of the current economy to all but the most Pollyannish of ostriches with heads in the sand.
Yet the U.S. 2011 continues to nation build, and the behavior is national insanity. If we were to collectively lie on the psychiatrist's couch, the nation would be diagnosed with a death wish. Look at any predictable challenge to the infrastructure to see the fissures; take the current heat wave which is putting national and regional power grids to the test.
From a Washington Post report (Heat Wave 2011):
In many ways, this heat wave exemplified the type of extreme heat events that climate science studies show are becoming more common in many parts of the world, likely due at least in part to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Studies of specific extreme heat events, such as the deadly 2003 European heat wave and last summer’s heat wave and wildfires in Russia, have demonstrated that they were also associated with unusually large, intense high-pressure systems.
One study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2008, stated:
The risk of hot summers is currently rapidly increasing, raising the likelihood of record breaking heat waves around the World, as seen in Europe in 2003 and 2006 and in North America in 1995 and 2006.
Climate projections for the rest of this century show that heat waves of similar magnitude to what we just experienced may become much more common over the course of this century, possibly occurring once or twice per year if emissions continue to increase at present rates. In fact, one study published earlier this year projected a dramatic shift towards permanently hotter summers, with more frequent and intense heat waves, during the next few decades (starting first in tropical regions), which is far sooner than was previously thought.
Another study raised the disturbing possibility that the limited human tolerance to heat stress constitutes an “upper limit” to our species’ ability to adapt to global climate change, and estimated that this limit might be reached if warming reached about 7 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, which is within the range of projections of many studies looking at how the climate will respond to greater amounts of greenhouse gases over the longer term.
The bottom line: Heat waves such as the one we’ve just experienced may soon become part of the typical American summer, and we’d be wise to start taking actions to ensure that we are prepared for that very real possibility.
So, deadly heat waves may become de rigueur, but what are we doing to ensure our safety? We are not harnessing the power of the sun in any meaningful way, and the terror threat against the grid is negligible compared to the very real and immediate threat posed by Mother Nature. Yet pumping money into an ersatz protective posture against terrorism makes us think we are safe.
Our electrical grid is antiquated and we fail to maximize wind, wave and solar power, yet we spend $4+ Trillion on nebulous terror threats in far-flung sandboxes while we wither in The Homeland ©. We build nations while ours devolves into a jury rigged death trap.
And of course, some of us do not believe in global warming.
Labels: global warming, heat wave 2011, infrastructure, military spending, terrorism