It’s HOT: Is Hydration Enough?

July 7, 2010 at 4:15 am

As I started writing this post last night at 11 pm it was a clammy 81 degrees in Chicagoland. It was about the same when I woke up this morning– it didn’t cool down overnight. There’s a heat wave in Canada–in Canada??– and dangerous heat on the East Coast. It’s 102 degrees and humid in Philadelphia right now.

So what do we do to keep our children safe from the effects of dangerous heat?

To protect our kids from this dangerous heat, we need to:

  1. Make sure they drink lots of water– even when they’re not thirsty!
  2. We need to keep them out of the sun.
  3. We need to make sure we don’t leave them in cars– even for a few minutes. This seems like it should go without saying, but more and kids are dying in hot cars– Yikes!

Learn more here: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp

But here is my burning question: Is coping with the heat wave enough? Why is it so hot, and hot in places it’s not usually hot, and more often? What can we do about reversing this disturbing trend? Ok, that wasn’t one question. Forgive me.

Bear with me.  I’m all about going green and getting happy. So keep reading!

John Holdren, one of our nation’s top scientists, warns that killer heat waves like the one that killed 35,000 people (that’s not a typo) in Europe in 2003 will become the new normal at the rate we’re going with our use of energy that inadvertently emits heat-trapping gases. Read more from one of his power point presentations– it’s not tough to follow. Lots of great info: http://ncseonline.org/conference/Chafee08final.pdf

As a mother, when I think about this kind of new normal, I get choked up. What about you?

As a parent, I ask myself, what kind of world do I want my children to live in? Do I want them to be able to play summer sports outside? Do I want them to be able to go camping? Do I want them to be healthy?

I ask you: What kind of world do you want your children to live in?

These extreme heat waves are a sign, one of many, of  what I call “global weirdness”– the weird weather we get as an unintended consequence of our addiction to oil– and other dirty forms of energy like coal that we use to generate electricity.

Why? All that energy to heat and cool our homes and buildings and move us and our stuff from point A to point B to point Z in our oversized vehicles and power our IPODs and laptops and cell phones (yes, mine too!)–and don’t forget the energy it takes to create and dispose of our stuff!  All that energy generates heat-trapping gases that are causing warming.  (Yeah, the natural sun cycles do too, but what we’re doing accounts for almost all of it. ) And then we rip out a whole lot of trees to use for paper or furniture or cardboard or coffee cups or to clear fields for crops like palm oil. We need those trees to keep us cooler!

  • Those innocent oiled birds in the Gulf are literally boiling to death in hot oil. Is that OK with you? Is this the kind of world you want to leave your children?
  • Social media maven Amber MacArhur (@AmberMac) put a post on Twitter yesterday afternoon which said that during yesterday’s heat wave in Toronto there was a power outage. People were stuck in elevators at the end of their workdays. How miserable.
  • Yesterday, my friend Nan in Philadelphia who loves–I mean LOVES– baseball opted out of the game because temps were expected to hit 100. She told me a good friend of hers, an outstanding athlete, suffered heat stroke the day before while riding her bike.
  • Already as many people have died from complications of heat this year in Delaware as died all summer.
  • This morning on the news they announced that a big section of Lake Shore Drive had to shut down to repair a huge sinkhole that was caused by yesterday’s extreme heat.  A hassle, right?
  • Oh yeah, and the fact that it didn’t cool down last night– that’s another part of the heating-up pattern.

Global weirdness is here. It’s now. But it’s not too late to do something. And the personal rewards of action are tremendous.

I promised you this would be about going green and getting happy. Here it is:

If you want to ensure your children a world in which they can thrive, you need to become an avid conservationist, yes– turn off the lights, drive less, unplug, weatherize, buy less. But the good news is that to be a real part of the solution, you get to discover the power of your voice to protect the planet for your children.

This is truly empowering. It’s really cool.

I’ve discovered, for the first time in my life, that my voice matters. My elected officials want to hear from me. Your voice matters, too.

More than the car you drive, more than whether or not you use a reusable shopping bag. Drive less and use that reusable shopping bag– but what really matters for our kids future– and present– is the policies we put in place that can protect the planet– or not.

If you’re in the US, the single most important action you can take is to call or write your Senator (sorry, emails and petitions are way less effective) to support the passage and strengthening of the American Power Act. You won’t be sorry.

While you’re at it, have your kids write a letter and draw a picture too. It’s a great summer family project!

Join me in Going Green and Getting Happy– and spread the word!

Sign up for my blog to stay posted about how you reap the rewards of joining the growing movement of unlikely environmentalists and to stay posted on my forthcoming book, Fierce Love: How One Mother Reinvented Herself by Saving the Planet… and you can too.

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