Common Dreams - June 18, 2021

As what the National Weather Service described as "dangerous and record-breaking heat" affects 50 million people across the Western United States even before the first day of summer, climate experts and activists are using the hot conditions to reiterate warnings and calls for policy change as scientists are seeing their dire predictions come true.

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis," activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer tweeted Friday. "Action is urgently needed."

Steyer shared a Thursday New York Times report on the extreme heat that also caught the attention of Campaign for Nature director Brian O'Donnell, who warned that in the absence of bold action to address the climate emergency, "this will all get much worse."

... The newspaper detailed some of the current conditions in the U.S. West:

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.

At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.

In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana, and Utah, wildfires are blazing.

As National Weather Service meteorologist John Salmen put it to the Associated Press while discussing temperatures in and around Las Vegas that are expected to continue this weekend: "This is pretty impressive. We're seeing all-time records fall." ...
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