Albuquerque, NM

Opinion: Temperatures Will Likely Increase, so We'll Need to Find More Novel Ways to Keep Cool

Daniella Cressman

Lately, it has been so hot in Albuquerque, New Mexico that I can barely stand it. A heatwave has struck many locations across the globe.

Unfortunately, it looks like temperatures will only continue to rise, thanks to climate change.

"Enjoy the mild weather, everyone! We might never have a summer this cool again. The extended heat waves that in recent weeks have turned the United States, Europe and South Asia into furnaces are not guaranteed to recur next year. Wild anomalies such as last week’s triple-digit temperatures in England — where an 85-degree day was considered positively hellish when I lived there in the 1990s — probably will not become the norm. But according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet’s 10 warmest years since record-keeping began have all been since 2010. It is hot and getting hotter. The question is what we’re going to do about it." —Eugene Robinson

America should be leading the world to a cleaner, greener future, but this course of action is being met with a lot of friction.

"Despair may be justified, but it’s not a plan. Yes, the United States should lead the world in addressing the underlying problem — heattrapping emissions, but 50 Republican senators, one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — and the U.S. Supreme Court stand in President Joe Biden’s way. I hope Biden uses all the executive power he can muster to hasten a transformation to clean energy. I hope market forces, encouraged by environment-minded consumers, succeed where politicians are failing." —Eugene Robinson

The truth is that individuals and communities alike need to prepare for heatwaves in order to protect residents: many people died due to the blaring fever of the sun beating down on them.

"For mayors and other local officials, that means developing robust plans for heat waves that are life-threatening for vulnerable populations. In Europe, air conditioning has traditionally been unnecessary, but more than 1,700 people died in Spain and Portugal alone from last week’s oppressive heat, according to the World Health Organization. Most U.S. cities in the Sun Belt already are so dependent on air conditioning that a concern becomes the added strain a severe heat wave places on power grids. Those supplies need to be bolstered — but with power from clean-energy sources. The first time I made a summertime visit to downtown Phoenix — the temperature was 'only' 105 degrees — I was surprised and relieved to be occasionally sprayed by a cooling mist as I walked down the sidewalk. It once would have been crazy to think about installing such systems in a northern city like Newark, which for the first time just saw five consecutive days of temperatures over 100. Not so crazy anymore." —Eugene Robinson

The general public and state officials will need to take precautionary measures by establishing cooling centers, treating the extreme heat as the emergency that it truly is.

"Most cities already know how to set up cooling centers where residents without air conditioning can spend dangerously hot days in safety. In Washington D.C., some municipal swimming pools have been kept open later than usual during the ongoing 'heat emergency.' But few city governments do a good enough job of reaching those most at risk — senior citizens and shut-ins who do not have air conditioning and who may not have anyone to check on their well-being. If this kind of heat is going to be the norm, mitigation of extreme heat’s impact on human health has to be considered a matter of public safety and a vital city service." —Eugene Robinson

Additionally, state governors and federal officials will have to reevaluate their forest management strategies, especially when it comes to prescribed burns in arid climates: the blazes of New Mexico are a stark example of how many adjustments need to be made.

"The heat has changed the nature of the West’s annual wildfires, making them bigger, hotter and more unpredictable. In California, the Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park exploded over the weekend into the biggest conflagration of the season. 'The fire behavior that we’re seeing on this incident is really unprecedented,' Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie told CNN, adding that the fire is moving 'extremely fast.' It had burned nearly 17,000 acres as of Monday and caused at least 3,000 people to evacuate. Wildfire-prone states and the federal government are going to have to reevaluate their forest-management strategies in light of the new normal: extreme heat, extreme drought and an accumulation of dry underbrush that allows fires to spread much faster than in the past." —Eugene Robinson

On the other hand, many cities along the East Coast will likely endure additional floods throughout the year as a result of climate change. They need to prepare for this.

"Meanwhile, low-lying East Coast cities such as Miami; Charleston, S.C.; and Norfolk experience far more days of flooding each year because of sea-level rise, which of course is caused by global warming. Some harbors will eventually have to install massive barriers to hold back the waters, especially for times when those waters are roiled by hurricanes that climate change is making wetter and more intense." —Eugene Robinson

Clearly, we need to do a lot more, and fast!

"Meanwhile, low-lying East Coast cities such as Miami; Charleston, S.C.; and Norfolk experience far more days of flooding each year because of sea-level rise, which of course is caused by global warming. Some harbors will eventually have to install massive barriers to hold back the waters, especially for times when those waters are roiled by hurricanes that climate change is making wetter and more intense." —Eugene Robinson

Comments / 8

Published by

Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
6625 followers

More from Daniella Cressman

Comments / 0