I literally had one foot out the door on my way downtown the other day when Jill asked “You’re not riding your bike are you?”
Um, well, I thought I would.
“It’s over 100 degrees out there,” she said.
Translation: A man your age has no business riding in heat like that.
She was right of course. So I climbed into my pickup and drove instead. I hate to do that but I’m also aware that people are literally dropping in their tracks – from Paris to Texas – because of brutal heat and the punishing humidity.
It’s all over the headlines:
“Hell is coming: A weeklong heat wave begins across Europe” The Guardian.
“‘It is horrid.’ India roasts under heat wave with temperatures above 120 degrees” The Washington Post
“Record-shattering hot, dry weather sparks drought and wildfires in Southwest.” USA Today.
“Charleston too hot for horses,” Post-Gazette.
“Woman, 3 children died of heat exposure along Texas-Mexico border,” Fox San Antonio
“Compound heat waves have double impact,” Physics World.com
And my favorite from the New York Times”
“Miami, scorching and drowning, awaits Democrats for debate”
Ah yes, the first Democratic presidential candidate debate in a city that is already “drowning” under rising sea levels and “scorching” under extreme summer heat. But the DNC says no single-issue debates thank-you-very-much. Still, maybe they’ll be able to squeeze in a climate question or two before their host city goes down for the third time.
Which of course is better than we can expect from the Republicans, what with the Trumpets busy squelching scientific evidence that climate change is even a thing.
Listen, how fast are the Repubbies running away from climate change? Up in Oregon, 11 GOP state legislators have taken it on the lam so they can deny the state senate the quorum it needs to take up climate change legislation. Apparently these poor lost lambs are so fearful of their safety that they have called on organized gun nuts (i.e. militias) to protect them against their big, bad Democratic woman governor.
Heck, the statehouse had to be closed for fear the gun nuts will overreact. Civil war anyone?
So things are getting a little, um, hot under the collar for American politicians. But as least their not yet dropping dead like those 36, and counting, heat exhaustion fatalities in India.
Meanwhile, back on the home front.
Look, I know that Florida is always supposed to be hot in the summer. We brag about it. But this summer’s heat somehow feels different. More final. More emphatic. More oppressive. The new normal?
Yes, I’m 71 and still riding. But I’ve never felt like it was the heat that would finally topple me off my bike. I always thought it would be a car. But now I’m driving instead of riding because it is a living hell out there. Life is funny.
I suppose I could drive to the beach and cool down in the Atlantic.
Oh wait. I read that in just one week last summer more than a thousand people were stung by jellyfish on Volusia County beaches. “The explosion in their numbers has been attributed to warming seas and even increased pollution; unlike many other marine creatures, jellyfish can cope with reduced oxygen levels,” reports the World Economic Forum.
Plus there’s that whole red tide, blue-green algae thing.
Anyway, it didn’t really get to be 100 degrees the day I drove instead of rode. Just high 90s. But my Weather Channel app helpfully informed me that the “heat and humidity currently make it feel like 100.” So there’s that.
And City Lab is warning that “If climate goals aren’t met extreme heat will kill thousands in U.S. cities.”
Listen, if this keeps up as many American cyclists and pedestrians are going to be killed by the heat and humidity as by cars.