This week has been another tragic week for America. The recent shootings of innocent citizens in Louisiana and Minnesota followed by the terrifyingly, violent, rampage in Dallas have broken so many hearts. It’s hard to watch the events unfolding on the news and social media. Many of us are asking ourselves how does this stop? What is causing this? Why now? Haven’t we moved beyond this? Why? Why? Why?
There are probably going to be some people who read this and jadedly think, “Oh great we are connecting issues that should not be connected.” This is a society issue. This is a historical race issue. This is a gun-control cultural issue. This is not about our rapidly warming planet. Some of you may even think, this is just a way to get eyeballs on an article during a crisis in America.
I wish I didn't see a link. As I sat watching all the coverage from a variety of perspectives and angles, a tweet came in front of me from Interfaith Power & Light, which stated that we have already broken six temperature records in 2016.
For most of us Southerners, we understand heat but even as Southerners we have been boiling through a particularly hot summer. Actually, we have experienced remarkable heat throughout the United States this summer. Most of us would say “Well, it's summer. It's hot in the South.” It is a simple truth but we should be asking ourselves are 90° plus temperatures throughout a large section of the country really normal? I would propose no.
When people get hot, tempers flare. It's a simple fact. Flaring tempers create unnecessary confrontations. I am not here to defend anyone. Everyone who had a gun in his hand and pulled the trigger committed an act of violence. I am not here to judge the rightness or wrongness. But just for a moment, consider this, you are outside. It is 90° plus and you have on equipment that adds a minimum of 20 pounds of weight. Now you're talking super hot. Now you are talking brains that become distracted from the task at hand. The body is now sending signals out saying how do I protect my body from overheating? The world gets fuzzier around you when you are dealing with super hot temperatures and an overheating body. Our expectations of ourselves are unrealistic when we really have to deal with extreme heat.
This extreme heat is the new normal. It should be a wake-up call. If we can't handle ourselves in this kind of heat, what are we going to do when it gets even hotter? Based on what the scientists are telling us, it's going to get hotter. We have not done enough to mitigate our warming globe. Does that mean we can’t? Sure we can mitigate it but in the near future? No.
So what’s the solution? I will not expound on my solutions for what’s going on right now beyond the sustainability lens. From the sustainability side, we need to do more. Period. We need to advocate more. We need to educate more. We need to eat more local food. We need, need, need more renewable energy. We need to carpool and use public transit more. We need to be more intentional about how we work, live and play sustainably.
We also need to do less. Period. We need to use less electricity when not necessary. Especially since most of our electricity is now coming from natural gas. (Methane is multiple times more harmful than Carbon Dioxide to the atmosphere). We need to idle our cars less. We need to use disposable single use plastic less. We need to be intentional about using less. We need to waste less.
Can we do it? Absolutely! Here’s some more things we can do. Some things we can do only require us to stop and think. When that heat hits, stop. Think about being more patient, kinder, more grateful, more generous even when others are not. Think about what it’s like for the other person. Walk away when you get over heated and if you do something you regret then take time to go back and apologize. When we practice more respect it’s easier to lose our control less.