Are we tough enough to adapt to the future? Or is it more about being smart?
(No. 6) Changes to our world bring more disease and fewer snow crabs, by Ty Montague and Stephen P. Williams
Image generated with AI from the prompt: “style of winslow homer - new disease on the horizon.” By the way, running AI eats huge amounts of electricity. As AI becomes more widely available to average citizens, do you think it’s a justifiable use of energy?
Six serious diseases are becoming more prevalent around the world as the temperature warms. There’s powassan (from ticks), which is rare, but deadly; Chikungunya fever (mosquito-born), which is destructive and becoming more common; Vibriosis (from raw shellfish), which can lead to amputations; Chagas disease (transmitted by insects, often found in thatched roofs), which gradually destroys your soft tissue, such as the heart; and valley fever (from a fungus in the soil) which infects the lungs, and can be very serious. Get the details here.
What does 95 feel like in New Orleans? In Paris? In Tucson? In Bangor? It feels exactly like 95.
Image generated by AI from the prompt: “American TV news style — feels like 103 degrees hot sun on screen.”
The other day the temperature in New York was 95 degrees. Yet weather forecasters said it “felt” like 103 degrees. No, it didn’t. It felt like 95, because that’s what it was. This “feels like” temperature trend is a method that media companies have of hyping us into a frenzy, so that weather becomes entertainment. I grew up in Kansas in the 1960s and 1970s with almost no experience of air conditioning. Once in a while you’d enter a room with a window unit that sent out a nice stream of cool air, but general relief from the heat was not expected. I don’t remember being bothered, even though it got into the high 90s in Kansas during peak summer.
If you don’t know that the air “feels” like 103, when it's only 95, you live with what you've got. If you have no AC, you sweat a little or put a cool cloth on your head. But now that we’re all used to being cool all the time, except when we’re outdoors, the sensation of feeling hot can be overwhelming. I feel this myself.
Europeans, who are suffering from unusually high temperatures this summer, often don’t have any AC. As the continent keeps getting hotter, Europeans can either learn to be happy in high heat, or install AC everywhere, boosting summer energy needs. Let’s hope for the former. The continent is bracing for energy shortages this winter, due in part to a dependency on Russian gas.
Other potential impediments to the free flow of energy are all around us. If we’re soon going to face an energy reckoning, we might start preparing by being realistic about the weather -- rather than hyping it like a boxing match -- and learn how to live with it as well as possible. It’s not necessarily a matter of toughening up -- instead it might be a matter of adjusting, perhaps by not going out in the noonday sun when the temp is 99, and feels like it.
By Stephen P. Williams
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By the way
Scientists suspect that the sudden disappearance of snow crabs from Alaskan waters is a harbinger of ocean fisheries collapse to come.