New Orleanians never do need an excuse to party, but sometimes we do need a reason to restrain ourselves. The need for such restraint is no more apparent than this Fourth of July, when record temperatures are scorching the nation.
For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posted an update this afternoon, stating that near Amarillo, TX more records were being broken:
RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AMARILLO TX
0426 PM CDT SAT JUN 30 2012
…RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT BORGER…
THE HIGH TEMPERATURE AT BORGER REACHED 106 DEGREES TODAY. THIS
BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 102 WHICH WAS SET IN 2011. WITH FURTHER
HEATING POSSIBLE…THE HIGH TEMPERATURE MAY INCREASE. THE FINAL
RECORD FOR TODAY WILL BE PUBLISHED BY 200 AM ON JULY 1.
Atlanta also posted record highs today (106) while the DC area is dealing with downed trees and other storm-related carnage. New York feels like a cauldron, and even Maine is in the 80s.
What’s it all mean?
Climate change deniers are apt to dismiss this extreme heat as summer as usual, or point to the previous summers that caused power outages (like 2006, when Queens, NY went without electricity for several days). Yet, science is clear on this: climate change is responsible, and it is becoming increasingly urgent for humans to stop burning greenhouse gases and depleting the ozone layer.
The Environmental Protection Agency, on their web site, states that the top GHG culprits are:
- carbon dioxide
- nitrous oxide
- and fluorinated gases
Yet, not all the destruction by we humans is purposeful; in fact, here in New Orleans one could certainly argue that most of the damage we continue to do is not our fault. At least not our fault if viewed from the vantage of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.
After Katrina, the economy was pushed into such a tailspin that even now, citizens are more concerned with the bottom line than greening their grocery experience, cutting energy use or driving a Prius (or better yet, riding their bike).
A simple stroll down Bourbon reveals zero recycling bins. Ask a shopkeeper where one is, and he’s apt to direct you to a policeman down the block, who in turn might look at you with a puzzled expression.
This is a city that should care, so what’s going on?
It’s not too late. Take this so-called heat “wave” (a heat tsunami, really) to change business-as-usual. Start now. Here’s how, courtesy of the US Government:
- Use an Energy-Star labeled computer and reduce your energy use by about 30 percent. Click here for more home office energy reduction tips.
- Use rechargeable batteries for products such as cordless phones and digital cameras. Studies have shown they are more cost effective than disposable batteries. If you must use disposables, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.
- Test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other places where air may leak. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
- Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors and ceilings.
- Inspect dirty spots in your insulation for air leaks and mold. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose and install house flashing if needed.
- Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs. The most common are either halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). For more on this, please click here.
Some other tips? Buy a spritzer bottle at the dollar store for less than a buck, carry it on the streetcar, and spritz as you jump off. Or why not put your sheets in the freezer, sleep with the window open, the AC off and that icy layer on you, hubby and kids? Also, take advantage of nature’s AC – the breeze from the Gulf, the shade of a Magnolia tree, the comfort of a chilly basement.
So while aiming to stay cool, also be mindful – for as hot as it is and will be this summer, if we don’t conserve now, our grandchildren will no longer have a choice.
Bold marks are those of the Examiner’s.
For more reading:
Click here for a link to the BBC Climate Change Experiment, showcasing the risk to us all.
Click here for the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators and related links.