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We are doing this to ourselves. (Photo: Screenshot)

We are doing this to ourselves. (Photo: Screenshot)

June Hottest Month on Record, As Antarctica Melts: Top 3 Signs We are Cooking the Planet . . .and Ourselves

We need to elect politicians who will address the problem systematically, with massive infrastructure

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

1. A European Union satellite has confirmed that June, 2019, was the hottest month on earth since scientific record-keeping began around 1850. In fact, if you take the averages of 1850-1900, June was 5.4 degrees F.warmer (3 degrees C.) Some parts of Europe were actually 10 degrees C. (18 degrees F.) warmer than normal. Germany and Spain had wildfires. The Spanish fire appears to have resulted from it being so hot that a manure field spontaneously caught on fire.

2. The climate emergency produced by our burning of fossil fuels made the heat wave about 100 times more likely, according to a climate study, though scientists are being cautious in underlining that at the very least it made the heat wave 5 times more likely.

3. Antarctica has lost more ice in the past 4 years than the Arctic has lost in 34 years, according to EuroNews. The “rapid ice loss reduced Antarctic sea ice to its lowest levels in the 40-year satellite observation record,” the news service reports.

We are doing this to ourselves. Every time we fill up our gasoline automobiles and drive them and every time we burn coal to make electricity (in the US Midwest the coal mix is typically 35 to 60 percent) we are putting a dangerous heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Americans are only 5% of the world’s population, but we are putting 5.5 billion metric tons of CO2 up there every year; the whole world puts out 37.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. So the US does over 14% of the total, three times what we should be doing if we just went by our proportion of the global population.

Some 64% of Americans own their own homes. If a homeowner is going to be in the home for 10 years or more, they are actually losing money by not installing solar panels on the roof. If you are a homeowner and put up solar panels, plus you get an electric car, the pay off period is about 6 years, and after that you have almost free electricity plus free auto fuel if you charge during daylight hours. The panels last about 25 years, though their efficiency does decline a bit over time.

We can do our own part, but we also need to elect politicians who will address the problem systematically, with massive infrastructure. Life is going to get harder. Whether it gets a little harder or a lot harder is up to us.


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

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