Baby It's Hot Outside
Updated: Jul 24, 2022
I’m a guy who hates the cold and loves the heat. That’s a big reason I’m in Florida.
But this is ridiculous. I walked barefoot to my car the other day to retrieve my (little-used) cellphone from between the seats, and now I know what those masochists in India who walk on hot coals feel like.
And Florida, with temps mostly in the low 90s, is a lounge in the shade compared to other parts of the country. In Wichita Falls, Texas, the temperature hit 115 degrees this week. The entire Southwest, and into Missouri, is sizzling. Extreme heat was recorded in 28 states. It’s even worse in the UK and western Europe, where the mercury has reached well over 100 degrees and wildfires have erupted.
Across the globe, barely livable heat is killing thousands and making life hellish for millions. In short, the planet is burning up, and as Catherine Rampell wrote for the Washington Post, “we’re running out of time to douse the fire.” The cause, of course, is climate change brought on by massive increases in the emission of greenhouse gases due mainly to burning of fossil fuels.
President Biden has fought for legislation to combat this destruction, but has been stymied not just by every Republican senator, but by a lone Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, where the coal industry has made him rich. A DINO (Democrat in name only), Manchin cares more about his money and power than the fate of the country (and not just for his environmental stonewalling).
This scribe has written to key legislators, urging them to punish Manchin. The Republicans removed Liz Cheney as leader of an important House committee because she did the right thing in opposing Donald Trump’s big lie, but Democrats won’t even threaten Manchin with removal from chairmanship of the critical Energy and Natural Resources committee for doing the wrong thing.
Okay, the Dems are too timid to wield the stick on this bottom feeder of a politician. So how about the carrot – and why hasn’t anyone in the Senate or some pundit suggested it? Politicians routinely wheel and deal with each other (though usually the negotiating is between the two parties rather than internal). Why don’t Democratic Party leaders offer grants to West Virginia for building facilities and apparatus that produce non-fossil-fuel energy from sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, and hydrogen. Manchin could campaign to the electorate with the promise of better lives for the thousands of coal miners who risk their health and lives slaving deep underground to extract coal. They could be trained to work in the renewable energy industry. Of course, the coal producers likely would have to be subsidized for converting their operations into these new forms of energy production.
Perhaps the idea is simplistic, but in my view, is worth considering and investigating.
But to syndicated columnist Rampell’s thinking, Manchin is not the main culprit in dousing America’s hope of curbing climate change: “We Americans did it. Together.” She reminds us that every Republican senator has declined to work with Democrats on a compromise, yet the media concentrate only on Manchin. But the Democrats are likewise to blame, especially Biden for preserving Trump’s solar tariffs, making solar energy more expensive.
“The best thing for job growth, inflation, geopolitics and climate …,” Rampell writes, “would be to reduce the costs of renewable-energy inputs. Instead, Democrats repeatedly choose to do the opposite.” However, whatever Biden does is hampered a Supreme Court that recently made it harder to regulate carbon emissions.
But the biggest obstacle, by far, to combating climate change is the voters, Rampell says. Other, more immediate and personal concerns always take precedence over the climate issue, and elected officials at all levels listen.
To me, apathy of the masses is most obvious in their acceptance of, and apparent preference for, temperatures in public buildings far lower than is necessary for comfort without extra layers of
clothing. Restaurants, doctor offices, hotels and motels, stores, and government buildings – all have air conditioners set to levels so low as to prompt many people to don sweaters or jackets. The proprietors and managers are abysmally inefficient in failing to recognize that their electric bills
would be far lower by raising the thermostat by as little as two degrees. And by raising the level from, for example, 72 degrees in the motel room I recently entered to 79 degrees, the motel would incur a big economic benefit and the planet’s life, if such measures were universal, would be extended.
People will not comply of their own accord. Thus, legislation is needed to require the raising of AC thermostats. But any politician concerned about hiser political future isn’t going to risk alienating hiser voters with such a proposal. People must first be convinced of its dire need. Former vice president Al Gore raised the level of awareness of the existential threat posed by climate change, but he was mostly a voice crying in the wilderness.
Today, that threat is much more apparent, with televised scenes of people everywhere seeking relief from the oppressive heat and wildfires breaking out in countries around the world as well as in our own. Another idealist of Al Gore’s ilk might be more successful in getting people to support remedial laws. That is, unless it’s too late.
“A pox on all our houses,” Rampell declares. “Given rising temperatures, sea levels and natural disasters, that curse already appears to have arrived.”