The Pacific Northwest and its Canadian neighbor are shattering temperature records. The highest temperature ever recorded in Canada happened this week, and it’s possible that by the itme you read this, it will be broken again.
Not only are the highs higher than ever, but it’s more sustained than ever, sometimes each day breaking the new record that the previous day had set.
Arizonans, or those of us in the southern half of the state, are known for being jerks about high temperatures in other places. A “that’s nothing!” kind of response.
The problem with that is that it’s not supposed to be that hot in most other places. (I’m not getting into dry versus wet heat today, because it’s a distraction.) We live in the low desert where it’s hot all summer. Nearly every indoor space is air conditioned. Private and public pools are ubiquitous. Signs are posted at trailheads with warnings about hiking in the heat and some precautions uneducated hikers should take. We know not to leave people, animals, crayons, or lip balm in cars and not to touch the metal part of seat belts when we get in the car. Whether we like the heat or not, we know the ins and outs.
Just like a native to Phoenix would be lost if we suddenly got a foot of snow, people in places where it shouldn’t be this hot are suffering. They don’t all have air conditioning because they typically don’t need it. And the infrastructure isn’t made for that kind of heat.
Let me use this past winter in Texas as an example.
They had sustained freezing weather in a location where sustained freezing weather is atypical. In addition to the problem of their power grid (which is a separate and very political issue), pipes froze.
I grew up in New Jersey and know a bit about preventing pipes from freezing, and many in Texas knew the same advice: turn the faucet on just a bit to keep water moving so it didn’t freeze in the pipe.
Except that didn’t work, because the pipes weren’t insulated against freezing weather. The problem in part was the pipe, not just the water in the pipe.
The Pacific Northwest is having the same type of problems, but with things melting instead of freezing. They aren’t prepared to accommodate sustained weather over 100 or 110 like we are here.
It was hotter in parts of Canada yesterday than it was in Phoenix. There were places in Washington and Oregon that were nine or ten degrees hotter than Phoenix yesterday.
I don’t know how to help or I’d lay out a call to action. But we’re all going to be cooked or drowned or both if we don’t do something about climate change pretty quickly.