Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Because It's Too Damned Hot

(Editorial cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (August 12, 2012) and featured at McClatchy DC. Click on image to enlarge and then please return.)

As much fun as the Romney/Ryan Express is turning out to be right now, I'm just too overwhelmed by the heat wave in Southern California to be coherent enough to blog about it. It's as if my brain and my body have decided to head off into some other dimension in protest.

Now, I'm willing to admit that August and September are the hottest months for this area and that days of temperatures in the upper 90s and even triple digits are not that unusual. This heat wave, however, is different. First of all, humidity levels are much higher than in usual in SoCal. It's been like breathing and moving through wet cotton.

Second of all, while we might have spells of three or four days of high heat, we don't have several weeks of it with no end in sight. We're well into week two of these temps. Yesterday the high was 96F for the mid-San Gabriel Valley. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be 95F, and then the temps are supposed to start climbing again. That will put us into week three of the heat wave, and that is unusual.

What is worrisome from the practical 'here-and-now' is that our energy sources are badly strained because the San Onofre nuclear power plant (which supplies a considerable amount of electricity to Southern California) is down and won't be up until after the summer is over, if then. We've had several "flex alerts" called, asking consumers to reduce power usage as much as possible between noon and 9PM to avoid brown outs. People have complied, but that still doesn't offset the loss of the power from San Onofre.

I've tried to cut my personal usage as much as possible. I've ramped the a/c to kick in at 80F, unplugged everything but the refrigerator, and stayed off line during the afternoon. The problem is that I live in an apartment building with a stucco exterior. Now stucco is a wonderful insulator. It keeps the building cool during most sieges. When it's this hot for this long, however, the stucco gets hot and holds the heat in.

And what is more worrisome is that this might very well be a pretty good indication of the future. It won't be unusual, not at all, not here or elsewhere. And I really don't see that anyone anywhere is willing to do anything about it.

Jim Morin's cartoon nailed it.

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