WHEN YOU'RE HOT, YOU'RE HOT!
This was the title of a gonzo hit by country music hall of fame singer jerry reed. While the lyrics aren't about the weather, the title certainly works.
The people who own the unit above ours just came down for a visit from Canada. I said, "Not too many people come down here in July/August or even September." They said they'd noticed that it seemed hot, unusually hot, compared to last year. Yesterday from this writing the heat index was 105 and higher in certain parts of South Florida. That's hot.
I've been a Florida resident for over 30 years. I can remember two things very distinctly about the early summers in the south Florida I moved to. One almost occurred like clockwork, it rained at four o'clock. The storms were as they are called in Texas, "frog stranglers." Water poured out of the sky in torrents. It was "soak you to the skin in a minute" rain. Then it would stop. Same thing the next day.
The other is that every February we had a cold snap. It was for Florida very cold, sometimes the high 30's, which was great for the oranges. The sweetness of the orange is heightened by a cold snap. Farmers would put out smudge pots in the fields. Sometimes they'd hire helicopters to hover over the trees and move around the warm air so the oranges didn't freeze. One winter I was living in a 3-room apartment on Washington Avenue in South Beach. The heat was provided by a window air conditioner that had two settings. It broke. I slept in my clothes with jackets and blankets on top of me. It was cold. I got pneumonia.
It's been years since we've had an extended cold snap. Things are changing so rapidly it is affecting every living thing. Species, including us, that have taken millions of years to evolve, can't adapt in a year, or even a decade. The UN Commissioner for these things had an editorial in the Sun-Sentinel last week. One of the statistics he offered really shocked me. The warming of the planet began with the industrial revolution. But there was a lot of play then between us and the ozone layer. No one noticed until recently that it was as if we were trapped in a sinking ship. We are in an air bubble. The water is rising below and there isn't much space left as we were pushed upwards, to save us unless the water receded. The gentleman said that since the industrial revolution the globe has warmed 33 degrees. We only have two left before parts of the planet be unable to sustain natural life. Two weeks ago, eleven mountain skiers in Switzerland were killed by a piece of a glacier warmed so much it broke off, started an avalanche, and killed them. "We have met the enemy and he is us." Thank you Pogo.
There are some places around the globe doing things, which in some cases is abandoning ship. Here are some examples. Ever been to or want to go to the South Pacific? Better hurry and take your family. It is estimated that the Marshall's, Fiji, the island nation of Tuvalu, and the Maldives will become the new Atlantis', completely submerged. Some of the islands are beginning to move populations! The island nation-state of New Zealand…the land is sinking, and the water is rising. In 60 years, time, the water level will be three feet higher than it currently is. Oh yes, then there is our 50th state, already ramping up planning.
Two nations have taken the same idea with one turning it upside down, literally. The Netherlands has begun to build huge sea barriers that will close during fierce storms or tsunamis. Eventually, they will ring the country.
Italy is facing severe issues in Venice. Already the many centuries-old Cathedral of St. Marks is being flooded at high tide with damage being done to priceless things. The Venetian fathers could not abide staring out into the ocean and seeing monstrous gates. They built the gates and then sunk them, anchored them into the sea bottom. These gates will rise in emergencies. The one unanswered question is if they will if they've stayed unused for a few years and get covered with silt and muck.
The good ole USA is primarily doing little, though some states are. New York is a prime example, following the lead of the Netherlands.
Miami Beach? I used to live there 35 years ago. Even then, a heavy downpour would flood the streets of South Beach. Now, the city could paraphrase the signs in Johnstown, Pa. "Don't spit on the floor. Remember the Johnstown Flood."
As Confucius said, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. If every one of us takes a step, we'll all move forward. We need to focus on what we as individuals can do to head off a global crisis. As Rachel Madow says, "Watch this space." I'll give you some answers next month. But the very first thing we all must do is believe it is happening. So entwined are we in daily life, we can't focus on the lives of our children and grandchildren, or our politics is blinding us, or we just can't get our minds around what may seem to be the plot of a science fiction movie. Believe you me, the moon won't be ready in time and you local movers can't get you there anyway.
Remember how we used to call doomsday sayers Chicken Littles? Well, guess what? That chicken may be spot on.