Category: heat

Give It Up HOAs | Americans Want to Act On Climate

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 16, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

From climate action landscaping to white roofs and solar panels, Americans are heeding the warning of the IPCC Report released on August 9, 2021 and jumping into action. Code Red for Humanity. We only have until 2030 to dramatically slow our current global warming trajectory of 4.4ºC above pre-industrial levels, and get it down to 1.5ºC. 

System change is the way out of this nightmare. As we rush to apply the climate action tips we see on social media platforms and online webinars, we find themselves eventually getting all tangled up with our HOA. In fact, HOAs and its members have been battling over climate action in courts for years, with homeowners typically being on the losing side. That is, until recently. “The impacts of climate change have become clear to the person on the street,” explains Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and Director, Earth System Science Center at Penn State, as well as one of the lead authors of the August 9, 2021 IPCC Report. HOAs now have their backs against the wall. They have to quickly decide between two options.

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We only have until 2030 to cut carbon emissions by 50%. Half the battle is knowing what to do first. Reach out so we can help you figure out the best path forward.

(1) Give it up and let their members rush forward with:

  • solar panels
  • no mow permaculture lawns filled with biodiversity
  • pollinator gardens
  • composting 
  • white or light roofs
  • light colored driveways

(2) OR, continue with their hardline approach and decline most, if not all, requests to establish new breakthrough standards in order to create sustainable systems in the community.

Currently, the HOA system running through the bedrock of our local communities, has been exposed as one of the greatest barriers to keeping global warming below 1.5ºC, which is the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement. With Biden recently announcing that we only have 10 years to turn things around, HOAs are now the obstacle to immediate action and have to accept the reality that they have no choice but to change the bylaws.

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“When our mind is clear…Joy follows.”

Heart of the matter. For more than 10,000 years, planet earth has fluctuated between +/- 1ºC. Under these stable conditions of reliable seasons and predictable weather patterns, humankind has prospered. Being at 1.2ºC, for the first time in the history of human civilization, we now find ourselves in uncharted territory. Predictions are difficult if not impossible. Weather patterns are very unreliable. We see how dangerous and deadly 1.2ºC is, and most humans instinctively know something has to give. The majority realize that the extreme weather events this past summer were absolutely dreadful and don’t want to find out how dangerous life above 1.2ºC might be. 

According to HOA-USA, there are more than 370,000 HOAs in the United States that represent over 40 million households. If our current trajectory is 4.4ºC, which is technically uninhabitable, and we only have ten years to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent, we must move quickly to uproot the existing systems that have landed humans on the endangered species list.

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Existing HOA landscape and roof color policies have been a major contributor to climate change.

States have begun passing laws that prevent HOAs from restricting homeowners from acting on climate:

  • Virginia passed SB 504 Virginia Energy Plan in March 2020, limiting HOA restrictions on solar panels.
    
  • Maryland passed HB 322 The Low-Impact Landscaping Legislation in May 2021, allowing “bio-habitat gardens and other features designed to attract wildlife; pollinator gardens and other features designed to attract pollinator species.”
    
  • Minnesota appears to be one of the most advanced states in creating a path forward into the world of new sustainable systems with lower carbon emissions. Minnesota has established an impressive stepped ascension called the Minnesota GreenStep Cities and has a list of Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development that helps towns navigate the legal side of things. IE, Minneapolis: “…the right to install and maintain a managed natural landscape.”
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These are just a few of the many examples that show the momentum of the climate action transformation and should provide homeowners with confidence that the law, and global community, are on their side. The strong, positive momentum empowers members in every HOA community to let their HOA know that the HOA is obligated to be resilient, adapt and change the rules, and policies that have helped cause global warming, and are thus now outdated. 

NEXT STEPS:

  • Review your HOA bylaws that pertain to landscape, solar panels, roof and driveway color.
  • Contact your HOA and explain your plans and ask for approval.
  • If they say “No,” then meet with your neighbors and start a petition in your community, aimed at getting 100 percent of the families to sign the petition.
  • Inform the public on social media about any challenges you might have with your HOA, (HOAs hate bad publicity).
  • Outline the details of any difficulties you might have with your HOA on Google reviews.

Sadly, we can’t rely on our politicians to uproot all the systems. With extreme polarization, getting legislation passed will likely take longer than 10 years. Thus, we the people have to uproot the system. Let’s begin with HOAs. 

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No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Future Black Swan Weather Events | IE “Manhattan Project” Toxins

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 8, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

In the midst of this summer’s deadly heatwaves, melting icecaps and ferocious wildfires, a rain bomb exploded over a five-county area in rural western Middle Tennessee, traumatizing multiple communities, most notably the small, friendly town of Waverly.

It was in the early morning hours of August 21, 2021, a Saturday thankfully, approximately ten miles further up the mountain from Waverly, in McEwen, Tennessee, that 17 inches of rain dropped from the sky, (nearly triple the amount of rain that pounded communities in New Jersey and New York when Ida’s remnants slammed the tri-state area on September 1, 2021, killing 40). The torrents of Tennessee rain quickly gushed into Trace Creek which soon grew into a massive thrust of water that raged down the mountainside and pummeled Waverly much like a tidal wave crashing ashore. The unexpected catastrophic flooding overwhelmed the small community of 4,000.

There was widespread and extensive infrastructure failure. 

  • 20 people were killed.
  • 1209 homes were flooded, with several hundred completely destroyed.
  • More than 125 homes were “twisted” off their foundations and just “gone.”
  • Humphreys County 911 center became inoperable.
  • Cell service was disrupted.
  • County water system went down.
  • Numerous main roads in multiple towns were impassable and some were completely washed away.
  • 10 bridges were closed for days, with one requiring extensive repair and is still closed.

The summer devastation in western Middle Tennessee, with rushing water so forceful that two 7-month-old twins, Ryan and Rileigh, were ripped from their father’s arms and swept away, should be at the forefront of our minds as we come to grips with our new reality. 

A clear understanding of the threats we face at 1.2ºC above the pre-industrial global temperature will be our best defense. 

Prior to this tragedy, millions of Americans likely felt somewhat safe in the heartland, as well as up the East Coast in non-coastal communities. But now, post Tennessee trauma, as we assess our personal and family exposure to the risks of extreme weather events, the western Middle Tennessee flood makes it clear that there are no safe havens or hideaways. Therefore, we all must act quickly to make different choices so we can stay below 1.5ºC. Every degree above 1.5ºC will generate weather extremes that are exponentially more perilous than the ones we suffered through during the summer of 2021. 

This week in Italy, a staggering 29 inches of rain spilled from the sky in a brief 12 hours, causing floods and landslides. Sovano, Italy is 59 miles from the coast and local official couldn’t anticipate such extreme weather impacting their community without warning.

With this in mind, it’s imperative that we begin to plan for black swan weather events like these, as well as the “what ifs.” What if torrential rains of 17 inches or 29 inches gushed from the sky onto some our 1344 superfund sites. These hidden environmental hazards quickly become mixed into the swirling, raging flood waters that surround us during extreme downpours. Take for example the Oak Ridge Reservation Superfund Site in Oak Ridge Tennessee, just 227 miles down the road from Waverly. Can you imagine the nightmare that could have struck on August 21, 2021 if the rain bomb had held out a few more miles and exploded over Oak Ridge, Tennessee instead? 

Oak Ridge, Tennessee is considered the energy capital of the world, the location of a large federal research facility, partly devoted to the research and testing of clean energy solutions to replace fossil fuels. Oak Ridge is quite historic, however, and wasn’t always clean. In fact, it used to be extremely toxic, and 35,000 acres of the campus were placed on the superfund site list in 1989.

Large sections of the landscape are labeled as “Highly Restricted,” which makes sense. Back in the 1940’s, Oak Ridge Reservation was:

  • Headquarters of the Manhattan Project beginning in 1942 after the “top-secret atomic weapons program” was moved out of Manhattan, New York to Tennessee.
  • Years were spent enriching uranium for the world’s first atomic bomb.
  • According to the EPA, over the past 79 years, toxic waste has runoff and contaminated “82 river miles of the Clinch River and the Clinch River arm of the Watts Bar Reservoir.”
  • Oak Ridge Reservation is one of the largest superfund site in the United States, clean up won’t be completed until 2028, 7 more years.
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Imagine a raging 82 miles of the potentially radioactive Clinch River gushing towards homes downstream, following an intense 17 inch or 29 inch rain bomb. It’s almost too terrifying to process. But the possibility of this actually happening is about 50 percent likely, which does inspire immediate action.

CALL TO ACTION. We must contact our local, state and federal representatives regularly to let them know how vitally important it is that laws are passed to protect us from environmental hazards in the age of climate change. 

Oak Ridge Reservation was listed as a superfund site 32 years ago. It doesn’t seem like Oak Ridge Reservation was ever a priority. How unfortunate. The situation has now morphed into a Code Red for Humanity threat. We have to start planning ahead and do whatever we can to curb the threat. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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The Mysterious Deaths of a Young California Family on California Trail Near Toxic Algal Blooms | Who Has the Answers?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 23, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

The mysterious deaths of the young California family and their dog while out hiking along the remote Savage Lundy Trail in Devil’s Gulch in Sierra National Forest in Mariposa, California on August 15, 2021, should have us all on high alert as we enter this new high heat era that scientists know very little about. 

Heart of the matter. There are many toxins in our environment that become more dangerous in high heat, especially extreme high heat with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These hazardous chemicals are likely to become airborne in temperatures with a heat index of 90 degrees. Examples of such toxins are the pesticides used on golf coursesas well as conventional farms. These toxic pesticides — typically glyphosate and chlorpyrifos — run off the treated land during heavy rains, and spread far and wide. They’re invisible, and most are odorless, which results in the public being unaware that we’re exposed. A family might live hundreds of yards from a golf course, and not think to attribute a health condition to this unfortunate reality. In fact, doctors might be stumped and unable to quickly identify what is causing an ailment. 

This appears to be the way investigators in Mariposa, California are feeling right now as they try and solve the tragic deaths of John Gerrish, 45, his partner Ellen Chung, 30, their one-year-old daughter, Miju, and dog, Oski, who all died while hiking in the California wilderness on a hot Sunday afternoon when local thermometers hit 109 degrees.

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Important facts.

  • Harmful algal blooms (HABs, also known as cyanotoxins) were in the south fork of the Merced River a couple of miles from where the family was found. The investigators didn’t provide any information about whether the family swam or waded in the toxic water, or drank from it, although apparently they did not, since no evidence of that was discovered during the autopsies, and no information to that effect has been reported.
  • Upon testing the water, high levels of anatoxin-a (ATX) were found. ATX is also known as Very Fast Death Factor that can cause multiple conditions including breathing paralysis and death.
  • In April of this year, scientists found airborne ATX around Capaum Pond on Nantucket and weren’t clear about how it became airborne. They expressed concern: “People often recreate around these lakes and ponds with algal blooms without any awareness of the potential problems.”
  • University of Michigan researchers, Andrew Ault and Kerri Pratt, conducted a study on the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Michigan in 2018 where toxic blue-green algal blooms appear each year en masse in the wake of agricultural run-off. They found that the waves splashing against the algal blooms along the shoreline, resulted in the toxic algal blooms becoming aerosolized. Ault and Pratt were the first to report this finding.
  • The terrain itself may have posed a problem. Steep mountain walls on all sides, with  the four bodies found along the trail on the lower section of the mountain. Hopefully investigators are researching whether thermal runawaywas a contributing factor. Thermal runaway is a condition, where “an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature, often leading to a destructive result.” This likely was not the case, but because the new high heat conditions are foreign to us, scientists don’t necessarily know whether or not it was a contributing factor, and might want to research this possibility. The toxic algal blooms were located at the very bottom of the mountain range in the valley, with towering mountains on all sides. Can thermal runaway cause the toxins to become more potent and rise further in the air?

Next Steps:

  • The Savage Lundy Trail is closed until at least September 26, 2021. Investigators have been very tight-lipped about their investigation, not providing any additional details after they learned about the high levels of ATX in the Merced Rivers due to toxic algal blooms. They did not respond to our request for an update, nor whether the Savage Lundy Trail would re-open after the 26th. 
  • Murder and suicide were ruled out. 
  • Nine out of ten Americans breath polluted air that becomes that much more toxic in the high heat.
  • We all may want to consider wearing facemarks outdoors in the high heat due to the sheer volume of chemicals that become airborne.
No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. 
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas | Lowering the Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 21, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

High albedo is a vitally important climate solution, that will not only lower indoor temperatures and curb carbon emissions, but will also help reflect the sun’s energy, making up for the decreased sun reflection of our shrinking icecaps. 

The threat of the smaller white icecaps has been highlighted in several powerful recent documentaries, one of which was A Life on Our Planet, in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted that forcers such as smaller white icecaps are now causing warming to increase at an increasing rate, which has scientists very concerned. 

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

In light of this looming peril, and following the release of last month’s IPCC Report in which the IPCC warned that we only have 11 years to fix this, Chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate CrisisKathy Castor (FL-D) was recently interviewed and stated boldly and decisively for all to understand: “It’s a call to action. It’s a call to immediate action.”

Sports arenas, as well as many convention centers and hotels in the hottest cities around the country, were developed in high albedo colors and materials, and now serve as great role models in this new era of high heat. High albedo is their rule of thumb. Too many empty seats in steaming hot arenas forced them into action. They responded to the crisis with innovative solutions that reversed the trend. 

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Let’s all do the same. In fact, this is what the IPCC and scientists around the globe are hoping for. That we all rush to reverse the trend with innovative solutions. 

The following is a very subjective list of the Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas in US. To be honest, it appears that nearly every sports arena in the world has high albedo which is a bold statement in and of itself.

The list of international high albedo sports arenas is long, but the stunning National Stadium in Singapore, with its massive white dome, is a standout.

What colors do you see when you drive through your county? In Northern Virginia, it’s plainly clear that high albedo is the rule of thumb for hotels, hospitals and large office complexes and appears to be the standard recommendation of developers of large spaces. The Pentagon, which opened its doors in 1943, is a great example of moderately high albedo in its massive complex that employs 35,000 people.

I’m thus confused about the choices made by residential developers who defy these principles and instead choose to nail down black roofs and often use darker materials on exterior walls like red brick. It’s time to turn this around. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. 
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Boosting Albedo Everywhere Is a Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 19, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

After a summer of unprecedented weather events, with hundreds of deaths and many billions of dollars in damages, the IPCC Report released on August 8, 2021, fell on open ears. We all stopped to process the urgent warnings.

CODE RED for humanity. We must make immediate changes.  These bold and chilling declarations were blasted through the vast major media outlets worldwide, as well as thousands of podcasts, millions of private conversations, and billions of social media posts. Articles such as the one by US New and World Report in July 2021, informing us that climate change already results in an extra 5 million deaths per year, provided real time data of just how forcefully climate change is crashing down on us. 

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

And then there were this week’s extreme weather events to drive home the point. This is how traumatic it is at only 1ºC+. But the world is currently on a trajectory of 3ºC. The IPCC recently advised that if we rush and do what’s necessary, we’ll be able to stay below 2ºC. But even 2ºC seems unendurable.

Heart of the matter. “Without the white icecaps less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases.” —Sir David Attenborough, A Life On Our Planet

The speed of global warming increasing at an increasing rate due to the shrinking icecaps, is motivation to sprint so that we have the time to make the necessary systemic changes to our infrastructure, as well as transition individual daily household and personal behaviors to eco-friendly, sustainable and green behaviors in a circular economy.

At a symposium in London in the spring of 2009, Nobel laureate and President Obama’s Secretary of Energy at the time, Stephen Chu, boldly announced to the crowd that whitening all the roofs and pavements in the world would be the equivalent of removing all cars on the planet for 11 years.  He didn’t mean this literally of course, but rather as a powerful illustration that we’d all be able to identify with.

This cool phenomenon is known as the albedo effect. Albedo is the ability of surfaces to reflect the sun’s energy, just like the polar icecaps. Albedo is measured in increments from 0 to1, with 0 being the darkest colors that absorb the sun’s energy which become quite hot, and 1 being the the coolest colors that reflect the the sun’s energy the best and keep everything cool. 

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Albedo levels:

  • Black – albedo 0
  • Green grass – albedo .25
  • Desert sands – .40
  • Newly poured concrete – .55
  • White – .8
  • Metallic silver – .9
  • Perfect mirror – albedo 1

Stephen Chu emphasized the three main benefits of whitening roofs and pavements:

  • Immediately cools a building’s interior which drives down use of air conditioning.
  • Results in lower energy use, which cuts costs and lowers carbon emissions.
  • White and lighter colors reflect the sun’s energy (which will make up for lost icecaps).

Next Steps:

Stephen Chu’s urgent recommendations were made 12 years ago. Many large convention centers, sports arenas, coliseums followed through exactly as suggested and rebuilt their stadiums applying the ideal albedo colors. We have to do the same on an individual level.

  • Switch roof on our houses to white or a much lighter color, no black.
  • If your normal re-roofing is scheduled for 2 years from now, move it up and re-roof immediately.
  • Is your driveway black asphalt? Quickly transition to concrete or paint it non-reflective white.
  • From now on, go with light colored cars.
  • Form an albedo committee in your town and lobby local government to paint town parking lots white, school roofs, libraries, and all surfaces.

Good Luck! Staying below 2ºC is the most precious gift we can give our children. They’ll never forgive us if we don’t succeed at this.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Top Tips for Staying Alive While Working In the Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 19, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Heat can hurt, warned UCLA Assistant Professor of Public Policy Dr. R. Jisung Park in a Twitter thread last month. “In unexpected ways, even indoors,” Park emphasized along with images highlighting the data that supported his assertions. Millions of Americans suffered through a scorching heat wave that punished the Pacific Northwest from late June to mid July, 2021. The staggering temperature highs jolted mayors and governors across five states. “Hotter temperature increases workplace injuries significantly,” Park stated point blank in one tweet.

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With so many enduring the negative impact of the heat, and with the IPCC Report confirming last week that we are now above 1ºC and will remain there for at least 20-30 years, (although scientists are very concerned temperatures will climb even higher, possibly at an exponential rate if we don’t act now to lower carbon emissions), the public must demand that OSHA rush to establish national Heat Index Standards to protect employees from the dangers while on the job.

The federal Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) was created on April 28, 1971 after 100 years of workers demanding protection from the torturous conditions endured during the boom in factory jobs that arose during Reconstruction, following the Civil War and beyond. Massachusetts was the first state to pass factory inspection laws in 1877. By 1890, the number rose to 9 states with factory inspection laws. Does this sound familiar? We’ve been experiencing this kind of grueling, slow motion response with curbing carbon emissions for decades. Millions of citizens protest and demand action, but legislative follow through is dangerously slow.

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With temperatures rising, and multiple employees dying at work in the unprecedented heatwaves of 2021, there’s no time for delay. We must call our local, state, and federal representatives and demand that OSHA act now.

According to OSHA, the heat index is the combination of air temperature combined with humidity to create a value that is usually significantly higher than the actual air temperature. The AccuWeather app refers to this as RealFeel.

OSHA has never had specific heat index standards that cover employees working in hot environments. They do have strong messaging about “water, rest, shade” on their web page: Using the Heat Index: a Guide of Employers, but it’s not required and there’s no legal liability if employers do not provide these three essentials.

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On July 8, 2021, Oregon’s OSHA established temporary agency standards that applied to both indoor and outdoor work environments where the temperature in the work area was 80ºF or higher. These emergency standards went even further if temperatures exceeded 90ºF. The temporary heat index standards will stay in effect until permanent heat index standards are passed. California and Washington have also adopted heat standards. But there are approximately 30 million Americans who work outdoors in the heat, and we have 47 states that do no have any employer requirements when the temperature skyrockets.

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Under Oregon OSHA’s Temporary Heat Standard, employers must:

  • Provide shade area that meets certain specifications
  • Provide 32 oz of dinking water every hour
  • Provide training for all employees, in whatever language they speak, to educate on: environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness, as well as employee rights and obligations under the heat standard, acclimatization, common signs and symptoms, factors affecting tolerance of heat stress, and how to quickly report.
  • In high heat, with temperatures above 90ºF, employers must create a communication channel between an employee working alone and a supervisor; a mandatory buddy system for others; one designated employee per worksite who’s authorized to call for emergency medical services; ten minutes in the shade every two hours; and implementation of acclimatization practices. 
  • Establish an Emergency Medical Plan
  • Review work sites to determine how these new rules will apply to their sites
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We know that heat is here to stay and will only be getting worse. Our inability to move quickly will cost lives. There’s already so much at stake with climate change. Let’s learn from our past mistakes of inaction, to create a safer tomorrow as we all face, and try to manage, a very oppressive enemy—high heat.

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Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Top 9 Immediate Concerns with Extreme Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 18, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Human civilization evolved during the most stable climate conditions in the history of the Earth. Scientists refer to this era as The Holocene Epoch, a period of global temperature variations rising and falling between +/-1ºC, but never exceeding the +1ºC. This stability provided more than ten thousand years of reliable four seasons and predictable weather patterns. 

Now, for the very first time, we are above 1ºC. There is global alarm. Scientists are warning that we’re meeting this formidable foe decades earlier than expected. That with the melting icecaps, temperatures will rise much more rapidly. Many scientists warn that the temperatures might actually skyrocket exponentially. 

We are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory.

World Climate Research Program Director David Carlson
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The sixth IPCC Report, released Monday August 9, 2021, outlines that scientists have no data or compass to accurately predict the future, nor accurately calculate the impact the extreme heat will have on every aspect of our lives. Reaching this dreadful heat marker this early has caught us off guard, and requires immediate action to curb the life-threatening negative impact.

Heart of the matter. Below are the top 9 immediate heat concerns to wrap our minds around. We should view each from the perspective of a citizen scientist: a learning experience to document and share with others.

  1. Work Performance. According to UCLA Assistant Professor for Public Policy Dr. Jisung Park, “heat hurts.” “Using data covering the universe of injury claims from the nations largest worker’s compensation claims,” Park and colleagues explored the link between heat and workplace safety and determined that injuries are more likely when temperatures are above a heat index of 90ºF.
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  1. Food Supply. Drought across the United States farmland in 2021 has dramatically reduced crop yield and impacted our overall food supply. Although the amount of rain is important, and having little of it causes great concern, the more notable telltale is soil moisture. Regenerative farmers and ranchers like Gabe Brown in North Dakota, have worked hard for decades to strengthen soil health on their land using an armor of diverse cover crops. This practice locks in soil moisture, which protects their crops in the event of a drought. But in general, according to Successful Farming: “Soil moisture levels, nationally, declined fast, with topsoil and subsoil both down 4% in adequate/surplus.” Conditions for conventional farmers are not looking good for a profitable harvest this autumn. Additionally, the public was advised several years ago to begin planting our own vegetables in case our food supply was threatened. Those of us who did, may have noticed that tomatoes don’t pollinate in high heat this summer and we only netted a few tomatoes per plant in Northern Virginia.
  1. Water. Years of drought out West have resulted in cascading negative fallout that has crimped the daily routines of millions of Americans. A water shortage has just been declared at Lake Meade along the Colorado River in Nevada. Lake Meade, now at a trifling 34 percent of capacity, is the largest reservoir in the US and supplies 25 million people with their water. Water restrictions have been established in many communities.
  1. Pets. Pets are often left in cars when owners dash into the grocery store or post office. Pets can die of heatstroke in 15 minutes in a hot car, and cracking the window won’t help. Further, asphalt is 40-60 degrees hotter than the air temperature, so walking our dogs on the scorching hot asphalt without little booties will fry their paws.
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  1. Explosions. There have been multiple random explosions at sites in the US and abroad, several of which have resulted in tragic deaths. These need to be properly investigated so we can learn if heat is causing spontaneous combustion. There are thousands of hazardous waste sites around the country, some of which are nuclear. Extreme heat has the potential to result in catastrophic blowback at all of these sites.
  2. Infrastructure. Extreme turbulence will become more common as the weather heats up and has the potential to result in passenger planes being violently tossed around, which may result in structural damage. New safety standards should be established in light of this potential constant stressor. Trains, subways, buses, and bridges are made of steel which expands in the heat. Cars have many plastic parts that can melt in the heat.
  1. Home Construction Safety Standards. The list is long and wide. Roofs must be reinforced to withstand the stronger winds and heavier rains. Sealants applied to exterior building walls will protect against frequent heavy downpours. New buildings should be required to have white roofs and white walls to reflect the sun’s energy.
  2. Lightning. Climate change has resulted in stronger and more frequent lightning strikes. In fact, three are more than 100 lightning strikes per second. One million lightning strikes that hit the ground per day. The vast majority of wildfires are started by lightning strikes. We need to make sure that our homes, and all structures, are grounded properly. New grounding standards should be established .
  1. Mental Health. According to American Psychiatric Association, extreme heat negatively impacts mental health. Therefore, we should all be mindful of the connection between the two, and be more aware of what symptoms to look for during heat waves.
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CALL TO ACTION. Contact your local, state and federal representatives and demand:

  • New OSHA protocols for those who work outside.
  • New building standards that guarantee roofs will be made much stronger, and exposed walls have a weather protection sealant. 
  • New requirements for new development homes be constructed with white roofs, and that parking lots and roads be painted white.
  • Lightning is bigger, badder and more frequent with the heat; all buildings need to be grounded, and grounded shelters should be required at all parks.
  • Stronger turbulence will undermine the safety of airplanes. There must be higher safety standards for planes as well as trains, subways and bridges made of steel. Melting plastic car bumpers are one thing, but engine tubes are another issue all together. Consumers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of melting auto parts.

We’re all citizen scientists now. We should be taking notes about how the heat impacts every aspect of our lives and sharing details through social media so that we can learn from each other. Drinking plenty of water in the heat is essential. And remember, never chug ice cold water after being out in the heat, we can shock our bodies.

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