Climate Fire & Brimstone

• “More than a billion marine animals died in the heatwave that swept across the Western U.S. and Canada last month. The climate crisis doesn’t exist in some hypothetical future — it’s already here. … At the moment, climate disaster is most visible in the U.S. and Western Canada in the forms of mass die-offs, unprecedented conflagrations, and struggling farmers, and in Europe in the form of deadly flooding. But the climate crisis has more subtle and insidious effects, ones that tend to impact less industrialized countries, poor people, and people of color more acutely than anyone else. In the Republic of Palau … rising sea levels are salinating its agricultural land, making it impossible to grow crops that aren’t salt-tolerant. And in the U.S., decades of racist housing policy, known as redlining, have left Black neighborhoods in many of the nation’s cities sweltering in the summer heat … due to a lack of green spaces and an abundance of pavement and concrete. White neighborhoods, on the other hand, tend to be much cooler.” (“Climate Disaster Looks Like Thousands of Boiled-Alive Mussels on a Beach in Vancouver.” Terrence Doyle,, July 21, 2021.)

• “Some of Europe’s richest countries lay in disarray this weekend, as raging rivers burst through their banks in Germany and Belgium, submerging towns, slamming parked cars against trees and leaving Europeans shellshocked at the intensity of the destruction. Only days before in the Northwestern United States, a region famed for its cool, foggy weather, hundreds had died of heat. In Canada, wildfire had burned a village off the map. Moscow reeled from record temperatures. And this weekend the northern Rocky Mountains were bracing for yet another heat wave, as wildfires spread across 12 states in the American West. The extreme weather disasters across Europe and North America have driven home two essential facts of science and history: The world as a whole is neither prepared to slow down climate change, nor live with it.” (“No One is Safe: Extreme Weather Batters the Wealthy World.” Somini Sengupta,, July 17, 2021.)

• “Without the shade trees, it’s going to be a hot summer for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. … the areas where millions of trees fell during the Category 5 storm are heating up faster, and a little hotter, than the surrounding areas. ‘The trees reduce the sunshine absorbed in the ground … They keep it a few degrees cooler … we are noticing on the satellite imagery those areas where Michael knocked down a lot of trees are warmer.’ … In addition to the warmer temperatures, with an estimated 72 million tons of wood on the ground one of the major threats is fire. Officials have described the impacted swath as a tinderbox just waiting for a match. … Officials are also worried about the opposite end of the spectrum – flooding. The downed trees have created a two-pronged problem for water management. One, without them being there to absorb the water there is more of it that needs to be managed, and two, with the debris on the ground they have essentially created hundreds of thousands of little dams that obstruct flow, causing back ups.” (“Hurricane Michael destroyed huge swaths of trees. Now, those areas are heating up hotter and faster.” Katie Landeck,, May 23, 2019.)

• “The season Americans thought we understood — of playtime and ease, of a sun we could trust, air we could breathe and a natural world that was, at worst, indifferent — has become something else, something ominous and immense. This is the summer we saw climate change merge from the abstract to the now, the summer we realized that every summer from now on will be more like this than any quaint memory of past summers. … America has known dreadful summers before. The summer of the Manson family murders in Los Angeles in 1969. New York’s Summer of Sam in 1977. The summer of 2019, when there were 26 mass shootings in 18 states, including one of the worst hate-driven massacres in modern American history at a Walmart in El Paso. What is different this time is the sheer volume of catastrophe, natural and man-made — and a sense that there is no turning back from it.” (“Is This the End of Summer as We’ve Known It?” Shawn Hubler,, July 28, 2021.)