Here is a question you are unlikely to be able to answer: Assuming you were alive at the time, what were you doing on Aug. 21, 1983?
My guess is sweating. Probably profusely.
That day, with a recorded high of 111 degrees in Fayetteville, appears to be the hottest day in North Carolina’s history, at least since I have been alive. To cling to that distinction, it had to sweat out at a challenge this week as temperatures reached triple-digits on Tuesday and Friday, and the weatherman says that it might get as high as 105 degrees one day next week.
And summer arrives on Tuesday.
So what is up, besides the temperatures?
At the risk of getting political, recent temperatures buttress the case that the Earth is warming because of our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels for energy, which produces carbon monoxide that gets trapped in the atmosphere, causing a stew. It is called climate change, and many scientists believe that it is the biggest threat to mankind’s stay here on Earth, and that we have already passed the tipping point, making any fix too tardy in coming.
Stack that on top of the reasons not to like China, which is the world’s biggest polluter, and by a bunch, doubling the good old USA in yearly emissions. At least we are trying.
I first became aware of climate change in 1982, when I was taking a journalism class and the assignment was to cover a lecture on what was then called the “greenhouse effect.” That day established for decades my views on the greenhouse effect, which was later called global warming, giving way even later to climate change, a more apt description of how rising temperatures impacted the Earth.
I wish I remembered the name of the lecturer that day, but I do not. I do remember his message, however, and it was alarming. Rising temperatures, he said, would melt the glaciers, cause the oceans to rise and by the turn of the century – the year 2000 – the North Carolina coastline would migrate 100 miles westward. That is right, 100 miles, making my parents’ home in North Lumberton beach-front property.
While I liked that visiting my folks would be a day at the beach, I knew there would be devastating consequences of rising oceans, and I remember thinking someone should tell President Reagan.
This lecturer was off in his prediction by about 100 miles, and for decades I considered myself a global warming denier, although I favored the milder winters. I found shrill all the predictions of impending doom, including from perhaps the biggest hypocrite on the matter, former Vice President Al Gore. Gore has crippled the cause by jetting around the world, cashing checks to make doomsday predictions, many of which the deadlines for have now passed – like the one from the 1982 lecturer.
Because I am willing to consider new evidence, my views on climate change have and continue to evolve, from denier to agnostic to an acceptance that Earth’s temperatures are rising. But where I separate myself from the alarmists is that I am not convinced that any tipping point has been passed, believing consequences that are likely to get increasingly severe, coupled with mankind’s ingenuity, will enable us to clean up the mess that we are making and extend our stay on Earth.
I know that my time here is dwindling, meaning I am unlikely to be around should the worst happen, but that does not excuse me from trying to be a part of the fix. There are easy steps that we can all do to make smaller our carbon footprint, and that information is always just a few keystrokes away for anyone who is interested.
But that is not going to do anything to cool things off in the short term. The good news is that cooler temperatures are coming, as they always do, in September. So, find comfort there and on the couch.
That is my hot take.
Reach Donnie Douglas at [email protected]