Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

109 degrees in the car

109 degrees in the car

So like a lot of folks I have one of those outside thermometers in my car now -- usually it's pretty accurate compared to the temperature they're giving out over the radio. Today the heat caused it to go all haywire, spiking up to a reading of 109 degrees. That was way off -- the real temperature at the airport, according to KYW, was a rather frigid 102 instead.

Hey, it happens -- I remember several 100-degree days when I was a kid, and that was a long time ago.

I did get a chuckle out of this Washington Post letter to the editor:

Remember the igloo that the family of Sen. James M. Inhofe (R- Okla.) made near the Capitol this past February in the midst of the record snowfall? They labeled it "Al Gore's new home" to poke fun at the concept of climate change. It occurred to me, sweltering through what probably will be Washington's hottest June on record, that we should get the Inhofes back to pose in a large frying pan.

They could call it "James Inhofe's new home."

Heh, indeedy. A hot day in July doesn't mean there's climate change, but this might:

Summer is off to a hot start -- not just in the Washington area, but also in the Far North, where if recent trends continue, Arctic sea ice could reach a new record low that surpasses the foreboding milestone set in 2007. (That's a pretty big if, however). The recent sharp declines are consistent with a world that is warming unevenly, with the Arctic experiencing about twice the rate of warming in the past several decades as the lower-48 states, for example.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the energy coin, you may have heard about that problem down in the Gulf of Mexico. Expert Michael Klare was on NPR's "Fresh Air" the other day talking about "the end of easy oil," and how such catastrophes will become more commonplace:

"I think that when you engage in drilling in environmentally hazardous areas — which is the trajectory we're on — more such disasters are inevitable because we're operating in places increasingly where the geological formations are unfamiliar, unknown — and where the Earth will behave in unexpected, unforeseen ways, and we can't protect against all of these unforeseen events. So all kinds of disasters are likely to occur."

Heck, that's already happening right here in Pennsylvania, where every day brings another fracking nightmare:

Agriculture officials have quarantined 28 beef cattle on a Pennsylvania farm after wastewater from a nearby gas well leaked into a field and came in contact with the animals.

The state Department of Agriculture said the action was its first livestock quarantine related to pollution from natural gas drilling. Although the quarantine was ordered in May, it was announced Thursday.

Carol Johnson, who along with her husband owns the farm in north-central Pennsylvania, said she noticed in early May that fluids pooling in her pasture had killed the grass. She immediately notified the well owner, East Resources Inc. 

"You could smell it. The grass was dying," she said. "Something was leaking besides ground water."

What I'm getting at is this: There are only a handful of problems in which all sides at least agree on the need to do something. (Arguably, immigration reform was one of these, although the middle ground seems to be rapidly vanishing.) I've met few Americans of any stripe who didn't agree that we need to import less foreign oil. The reasons may vary, and so do the proposed solutions. But melting ice caps, the destruction of vast sections of the Gulf, the polluting of northern Pennsylvania in an addiction-fueled frenzy for natural gas -- if Congress cannot sit down and start working on a plan for reducing America's use of fossil fuels, and it doesn't have to be cap-and-trade, but something, then it will be clear that the entire American system is failing.

You don't need a 109-degree thermometer to know which way the heat's going.

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Will Bunch
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