Warm with a hot breeze this noon Sunday here in California’s Central Valley — we’re starting a small run of triple-digit temperatures for a few days (high of 105 forecast for today), but we’re still not boiling like Arizona. In fact, we might be feeling cooler compared to last year for some odd reason, which isn’t frowned upon by any means.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hot as shit outside (AC comfort inside), just it’s bearable and not so shitty as 110-degree days for weeks on end..
However, there’s a horror behind adjusting to a ‘new normal‘ of heat domes being around — the world has just gotten the first taste this summer of the true meaning of the unsurvivable future. From The Washington Post last week:
“It’s just shocking just how big an excursion this is from anything we’ve seen before,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and the climate research lead at the payments company Stripe, pointing out that July was a whopping 0.33 degrees Celsius above the previous record.
Before this July, the world had briefly passed over 1.5 degrees for a few times before — but it was during winter months for the Northern Hemisphere, thus blunting the impacts on the largest population centers. This was the first month where temperatures were that far above preindustrial levels and most of the world’s population was under hot, summer conditions.
One of the scariest things about the emerging warmer world may be how quickly people mentally adapt to it. Almost 10 years ago, 2014 clocked in as the warmest year on record — now, looking back, 2014 seems positively cool. Researchers have found that humans quickly stop remarking on hot temperatures; after between two to eight years, what was once a record high starts to feel like the new normal.
Yet it’s happening so fast, there’s no time for a ‘new normal‘ to develop. We’re right now in that old ‘hard-row-to-hoe situation:
Everyone just experienced the hottest month in 120,000 years. But did you know that we also just set global records for both oil consumption & coal production?
For all the talk of “relative decarbonization,” the planet only cares about total carbon output https://t.co/KcQ28LldrI
— Nils Gilman (@nils_gilman) August 6, 2023
A kind of deeply depressing read, but worth it, found at Phenomenal World, also from last week — a deep dive into the problems humanity faces in combating the worse aspects of climate change, even with the impacts happening right now in real-time. A conclusion of fright:
Even catastrophes—such as the blazing summer heat still ravaging Europe—don’t directly lead to action. A study found that heat waves in Europe last year killed over 61,000 people. Europe was supposed to be shocked into action after the infamous 2003 heatwave, which killed over 70,000 people, and was the subject of one of the first climate event attribution studies. Without social movements, inaction dominates. Wealthy societies aren’t protected, but they are complacent. The deranged idea—as Amitav Ghosh describes it—that we are safe, that things are under control, that bad things only happen to people who are far away, persists. Anticipating future ruin, we fail to act in the here and now.
Community emergency services can help keep vulnerable elderly and infants cool. Governments can do more to cool people by opening air conditioned public facilities. China has gone further, opening underground bomb shelters to citizens seeking to escape the heat. In Arizona, thirty one days of above 43C/110F heat has led to a surge of deaths and, in a rerun of covid, the government has resorted to extra trailer morgues.
Creative adaptation is urgent. So is cutting the stocks of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is not the logic of costs and benefits, but of means and ends. Not of economics, but survival.
Nothing really heavy, huh? The title of the above piece, “Global Boiling,” is a pull from a speech by UN Secretary-General António Guterres last month: ‘“The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”‘
Yet despite the actual in-your-face reality of the climate catastrophe, there’s also this with which we must contend:
An alliance of rightwing groups has crafted an extensive presidential proposal to bolster the planet-heating oil and gas industry and hamstring the energy transition, it has emerged.
Against a backdrop of record-breaking heat and floods this year, the $22m endeavor, Project 2025, was convened by the notorious rightwing, climate-denying thinktank the Heritage Foundation, which has ties to fossil fuel billionaire Charles Koch.
Called the Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, it is meant to guide the first 180 days of presidency for an incoming Republican president. Climate experts and advocates criticized planning that would dismantle US climate policy.
As I’ve stated before, we’re not only fighting fossil fuel consumption (and the shitting out of CO2) but the real culprit might be coming from inside the house of the living — Republicans want us all dead, including themselves, their families, etc.
Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity right now, and it’s so freaking urgent, words fail.
Horror, however, is Pinball always seems to have the last turn-of phrase:
Heat dome mandate, or not, yet here we are once again…
(Illustration out front found here.)