Monday, July 17, 2006

Dang, it's HOT!

I went to college in South Georgia - where the gnats swarm like bees and you can just about cut right through the hot, humid air with a knife.

I know what it's like to stand out in the middle of a soybean field interviewing a farmer about his latest irrigation system while swatting mosquitos, wiping sweat from my neck and trying to concentrate as the blazing midafternoon sun beat down on my face. It gets brutally hot in Statesboro, Ga., and I knew that when I moved down there, so there really was no use in complaining. It was hot; it had always been hot ; and it will always be hot.

I also know that Chattanooga is 300 miles north of my old college town and, thus, should rarely - if ever - get so humid that it takes your breath away. However, the last two weeks have been take-your-breath-away hot and humid. One step outside and the perspiration begins. Two steps and I'm full-on sweaty.

I took a look at the national weather map this afternoon, and it turns out I'm not alone. The high in Oklahoma City on Sunday was 102 degrees. Yuck. Think that's hot? Nuh-uh ... How about Rapid City, S.D., - their high was 108 degrees - in South Dakota, for crying out loud!

A little research turned up some more disconcerting information. Apparently, the past decade was the hottest of the past 150 years and perhaps the past millennium. The hottest 22 years on record have occurred since 1980, and 2005 was the hottest on record, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

I must admit that I didn't see Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" - partly because sitting through a lecture on the climate isn't exactly my idea of exciting entertainment, and partly because I've been somewhat afraid to learn just how sick Mother Earth has become.

I know it's July, and I know that July is supposed to be a hot month. But, seriously folks, this is something that appears to be getting worse and worse. Diseases are spreading more quickly, wildfires are becoming more and more common during the summer months and we've all heard that glaciers that have been here for thousands of years are melting.

There's so much more to it, and I wish we had the answers to stop it immediatly. We've been lucky in that car companies are developing more hybrid vehicles, but there's only so much driving a hybrid can do for the earth. At least it's a start, though. I wish car companies would find a way to make them a little less expensive so maybe the masses would be more willing to give up their gas guzzlers for something a little more earth-friendly.

There are so many other little things that, if we all took the time, could help at least a little. At this point, I think it's well worth the effort.

If you're interested in reading more about things we can do, here are a few links:

* World Wildlife Fund Tips
* EPA guide
* NRDC information

OK, I'm off my soapbox.