Out of curiosity, I went back through Yesterday's Papers and discovered that if I posted at all in the summer, it was about record breaking heat. Summer 2010 was killer in many ways, including record heat, but I wasn't posting much. 2009 heat links here, here, and here. 2008 here and here. An unusually wet 2007, and a hot 2006.
This year's heat put us in extreme drought. Wildlife get desperate and vicious looking for food and water. There's nothing out there.
Varmints get hit hard. The heat kills smaller animals like birds and squirrels outright. Raccoons, coyotes, opossums and other furry and feral critters bring bumper crops of fleas and sometimes rabies right to your back door. Cool woodpiles, houses, sheds are hideouts for rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders as well.
Raccoons are fun to watch but disastrously destructive. They can rip the siding off a house, get in the attic and shut you down, kill any smaller critter. Screen doors are no problemo for them.
Dozens of brush fires flare daily across Texas. Several of them nearby. Walked across the yard tonight and the grass was crunchy.
My aging body doesn't do well with this much heat for this long, not to mention higher utility costs. Poor Linus came in one night looking like he was loaded on something, falling over, eyes all weird, forgetting what he was doing. Most likely chomped on a toad. They're attracted by A/C runoff water, any place that might be damp.
Some friends lost a dog to a rattlesnake this week, even with a dose of antivenin. Dog -> Jack Russell terrier-sized. Rattler -> 5 feet long, with a 10 button rattle. No contest.
I've been entertaining a lot of "what ifs." What if the drought doesn't break? What if we are SOL? Drought is a constant way of life in many countries around the world. What if I were a mother in a land with no water? I can hardly imagine it. Staggering numbers of people, mostly children dying of famine. Apart from the humanitarian aspect, simply physically enduring that extreme environment is incomprehensible.
So what can I do about it?
- Can't take water to Africa, but I can help trap and neuter some of our feral cats and take them out to our friends' now dogless farm to keep the vermin under control.
- Relocate the 2 adult and 5 baby raccoons waaaaaay outta town.
- Use as little water as possible.
- Set the thermostat a couple of degrees warmer.
- All the little conservation tricks and habits of four decades.
- Pay attention to how far off the path we are.
- Look for solutions instead of aggregating wealth and power.
- Individually and collectively.
- Reward innovation.
- Allow change to happen.
- Drink a quart of water before going out.
- Wear sunscreen, long sleeves, UV resistant clothing and eye shades.
- Remember that the sun is brutal mid-day, but the temperature peaks later.
- Keep animals indoors or in total shade with plenty of water and food.
- Don't leave ANYTHING living or meltable in a car, especially people and pets.
- Keep a gallon of drinkable water in the car, plus refillable bottle.
- Talk to people.
- Read the science and read some more.
- Protect your children. Get them UV resistant bathing suits and hats--don't rely on sunscreen alone.
- Read this.