I’m sitting beside a stream a short distance from my home, lower, some people say, than is normal even for a normally hot August, which this August has not been. It’s been hot. July was the hottest month in the hottest year since records have been kept, and August is on track to eclipse July. In some places, it was hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk.
Some politicians say the world is not getting hotter, and if it is, it’s not the fault of humans, and if it is, well, we need the jobs. On the other hand, keeping those heat-making jobs means we can save buying frying pans and kitchen stoves.
Last fall, I tipped my canoe and found myself standing in chest deep water, not nearly as cold as I had expected. This year, I think – though I have not measured – the water in the same place is likely shallower. There are places I could now walk across the stream without getting my feet wet. What’s wrong with this picture?
The West Coast is so hot and dry it is spontaneously combusting – except for one or two fires set, deliberately or stupidly, by humans. The hot air is pushing toward the top of the globe, melting ice packs in the Arctic. The more the ice melts, the more dark ground is exposed, which absorbs more heat, which makes the place warmer, which melts more ice.
The Midwestern U.S. has always been a hotbed of tornadic activity, but last year there were several in New England where no one alive could remember them happening before.
A large part of Louisiana was submerged earlier this month and back in June when storms that should have become hurricanes didn’t. Instead, they just came ashore and hovered, dropping huge celestial swimming pools of water on unsuspecting earthlings.
It is important, I think, to occasionally step back and look at the Big Picture,;for instance, at 200 miles of Yellowstone River closed to fishing, swimming and rafting because scientists believe abnormally warm, shallow water is making fish more susceptible to the effects of a parasite that is killing them in bulk.
A few miles north and east of my home, four miles of the Susquehanna River and a few of its tributaries have been declared hazardous for recreation use. No fishing. No boating. No swimming. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is trying to figure out what is causing the problem. The state Fish and Boat Commission has been trying for years to get DEP to list the SusQ as impaired, the better to deal with cancer problems in the decreasing smallmouth bass population. Alas, DEP has refused, although it has posted guidelines saying humans should not eat more than one fish a month from the river.
Over the past few years, nuclear power plants from Connecticut to Alabama have had to reduce output significantly because the water used to cool them has been too warm.
It is difficult to comprehend how everything is connected to everything else – how perfect sun-tanning weather and warm ocean water on the West Coast can be linked to too-warm water in the creek near my Pennsylvania home, but there it is.
It was a lesson I learned as a boy whose job it was to dig drain channels through snowbanks to allow melting water to run away from the driveway. I did not think much then about the mechanics, but my career in the U.S. Navy taught me much about weather patterns and ocean currents.
If we could just get California to start pouring ice into the Pacific Ocean, maybe we could cool the ocean that is warming my stream.