On Climate Change, We’ve Run Out of Presidential Terms to Waste
The working definition of the ongoing brain seizure that is 2020 is either that Coloradans are being told by state authorities to install smoke-resistant “safe rooms” in their houses, or that Californians now must weigh what kind of mask to wear. An N95 mask helps to filter out harmful particulates from the wildfire smoke that is overwhelming the Golden State, but many come with an exhalation valve to keep the wearer from overheating—and that valve can spread the coronavirus. Luckily, according to the ABC affiliate in San Francisco, “There’s a pretty simple fix: you can wear a cloth or surgical mask over the N95.”
This is one of those terrifying moments in the early history of the global-warming era. As of this writing, Hurricane Laura is headed for the coasts of Texas and Louisiana as a monster storm; meanwhile, the West has been erupting in flames. In California, a heat wave that had produced record-high temperatures ran into a dry storm that, within a couple of days, produced a tenth of the state’s average annual lightning discharges. (Increase the planet’s temperature just a degree Celsius, by the way, and you increase lightning activity by about twelve per cent.) Authorities told all forty million people in California to be prepared to evacuate—indeed, they told them to park their cars facing out of the driveway, in case they had to leave in seconds.
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