No Place to Run

Barbara Stoner
4 min readJul 15, 2023

There is a big patch of brown grass in my yard — southern Wisconsin had no rainfall in June. Otherwise, it is as if we are forgotten by the future. The temperature still averages between 75 and 82 a day, lows in the 60’s at night. Lovely July weather. A little rain in the forecast. However …

A long and intense heat wave is about to bake parts of Arizona, New Mexico and interior California. Meanwhile, a separate broiling front is causing life-threatening temperatures in South Florida.
The National Weather Service has warned people in several cities, including Phoenix and Miami, to avoid the sun this weekend.
Swaths of the Southwest and Florida are expected to see record-setting temperatures. But those regions are not the only ones to see unusual heat as of late.
This week has had several days of the hottest temperatures on record
Over the past week, the average global air temperature on several days appeared to be the hottest on record, going back to 1979, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Weather Service office in Phoenix says it will “rival some of the worst heat waves this area has ever seen.

Not to mention:
Another heat wave is on the way for San Diego County, with the National Weather Service saying it could be prolonged and warmer, even for the coast. The heat wave will begin to build next week for the inland area and is expected to expand near the coast, according NWS. The excessive heat will especially affect the inland valleys, mountains and deserts. Between July 10–18, weather officials are anticipating above average temperatures throughout the region. NWS says temperatures could reach record levels during this timeframe.

As if that isn’t enough,
Florida is surrounded by seas currently measuring over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And yet its governor is fighting a war on woke, which means anyone or any organization that tries to point out that Florida is in grave peril from encroaching seas and hovering heat domes. Similarly, across the country Republican legislatures are passing laws denying different people access to the health care they need, just as the rapidly changing climate begins to make more demands on the system. And it’s not just pregnant woman and trans teens. Who do you think is going to be keeling over, maybe even dying, in the fires outside? Brown-skinned workers, legal and illegal, who must go out in the noonday sun to make a living.

There is much else going on in the world. There is still the war in Ukraine. Biden has not only pledged cluster bombs to them, he has also solidified an expanded NATO behind the effort. Donald Trump is under indictment here in the US and there may be more indictments coming his way. In the meantime, he is the top Republican candidate for the 2024 Presidential run. The US economy seems to be going stronger than ever before, but somehow Biden remains relatively unpopular. China and India are all grown up now and acting like it. Nobody really wants to talk about Russia anymore. In other words, big changes are afoot on the world stage with or without floods, fires, famine and foes. As for the little stage, if one can call the world’s greatest economy and its strongest military a little stage, we are still divided in ways that make little sense.

When I first began thinking about global warming and the changes it would bring to the planet, I really wasn’t too worried. We would, I thought, adapt. Necessity would force us to make different decisions, live our lives a little differently. We would move back from the water’s edge. Move higher up the mountain. Further north with the growing season. Young people would find their way through. They would reinvent the world. My grandparents reinvented the car. My parents reinvented themselves via WWII. For my generation, it was TV. My kids had the internet. Their kids, if they had any, would reinvent AI. Possibly. If they have time. This week, watching the Northeast drown under torrential rains, thinking of people I know in sunny Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California living under the domes that appear as purple-red bruises on our national weather maps, I am not so certain. Right now it feels as if we may be running out of time.

Meanwhile, all those pieces of politics and policy I mentioned a few paragraphs ago will go on playing out, as they should, but now in a world where earth, air, fire and water all insist on an equal say. Except maybe not so much equal. Maybe now they are all beginning to shout.

Hot, so to speak, off the presses:

Southern Europe is set to record its hottest temperatures in history next week as a heat wave scorches the Mediterranean. Nicknamed Cerberus after the underworld’s three-headed dog in Greek mythology, Europe is breaking the three-digit mark in Fahrenheit, forcing ambulances to remain on standby at popular tourist destinations. Italian officials issued red-alert warnings for 10 major cities, Greek authorities suspended working hours from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in high-risk areas to prevent medical crises, and firefighters in the Balkans are struggling to contain brush fires erupting near villages. (Foreign Policy)

A relentless monsoon has brought states across northern India under extreme and severe flood alerts, as rivers have swept into towns, washing away vehicles, bridges and roads. Over the past two weeks, the weather-related havoc has led to at least 100 deaths, according to the Associated Press. (Washington Post)

In all, 10 people died from heat-related illnesses within the city limits of Laredo between June 15 and July 3, a toll unheard-of in this heat-accustomed corner of Texas. Though public health officials in several states said a full and accurate count of how many people have died from the recent bout of heat is weeks away, if not months, Laredo’s experience suggested that the eventual number could be substantial — a harbinger of a future in which heat waves become a regular public health crisis. (The NYT, July 14, 2023)

As you were.