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Neale Godfrey Headshot

Too Darn Hot!

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The dome of high pressure that stalled over the Ohio Valley and the Northeast last week has finally let up. Cities in the northern half of the country, which have been warmer than spots in the Southwest, are finally getting relief. People are wiping the sweat from their brows and breathing a collective sigh of relief. In fact, it went from beastly hot to unseasonably cool.

Wow, this was a hot one. Power plants were forced to shut down, pavement buckled, lives were lost and some of last year's record highs were broken. I can't help feeling sorry for people working outside, or those living without air conditioning.

With the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, a freakishly early East Coast blizzard, record drought and fatal forest fires, it is easy to understand why some people are quick to credit climate change to the uncomfortable and odd weather, but a couple of odd weather events are not evidence. However, a study from World Meteorological Organization reveals "Unprecedented extremes since 2001." While extremes can be attributed to natural variations, rising emissions of man-made greenhouse gasses played a part.

Some 44 percent of countries in the survey reported nationwide hottest temperature records in 2001-2010, compared to 24 percent in 1991-2000. Coldest daily minimum temperature absolute records showed an opposite pattern: In 1961-1970, nearly 32 percent of the countries reported nationwide lowest minimum temperature values. The percentage decreased to 11 percent in 2001-2010.

According to Wunderground, Science says 97 percent of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming, global change is happening too fast for the ecosystem to adapt and satellites measure Antarctica is gaining sea ice but losing land ice at an accelerating rate, which has implications for sea level rise.

Involve Your Kids
Everyone can do their part to help reduce their carbon emissions but it is especially important for parents to teach their kids. Future generations hold the key and have to learn early. Whether ecological or economical, we all have mess in our lives. It doesn't matter who makes the mess, it is up to each of us to pitch in and clean it up.

Activities
  • Explain to your kids that personal cars and trucks in the U.S. emit 20 percent of the United States' carbon emissions. Walk or bike with your kids when possible. Carpool with other parents for school, sports practice and other destinations.
  • Air conditioning and heating account for almost half of electricity use in the average American home. Have your kids watch the electric meter as you change your thermostat setting and point out how the usage demand goes up or down. Be sure to turn off the AC when you leave the house. Put your kids in charge of reminding you.
  • Take your kids on scavenger hunts. Designate objects such as bottles and cans. Have them point them out to you around your neighborhood or in parking lots, then you can safely bag them. You and your kids can later redeem them and they get to decide what to do with the money. Don't forget that some of the money should be designated to charity -- maybe planting trees or another ecological cause.
  • Organize a neighborhood clean-up event with your kids and their friends. You can even get local organizations, such as the Scouts or schools, to join in the fun. Getting together to clean up a vacant lot or hiking trail is a great project. You can even give prizes or awards to the kids or groups that clean up the most trash.

Regardless of what has been causing the particularly unbearable recent extreme weather, 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries, concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current planetary warming. I like the idea of referring to the strange weather conditions as Global Warning.

It may seem like an impossible task for you and your family to tackle such a huge problem, but make a start. Do what you can. Make a difference. Listen to Mother Nature and begin with education.

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