Heroes

If the danger doesn't motivate you, maybe the price tag will.

Extreme weather in either direction means my Facebook feed is filled with jokes about climate change. (I make them, too.) But let's talk about what's actually happening when I have to wear short sleeves in the winter or my friends in Chicago end up with their eyes frozen shut two seconds after stepping outside.

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Unilever and the United Nations

I live in Arizona. It's generally on the warm side, but those of us who were born and raised here reminisce about the good ol' days when summer actually came to an end in October and we got to wear sweaters and jeans in December.

These days, when many parts of the country are nearing the end of a legit fall season, temperatures in sunny Phoenix remain in the 90s. And lately, our "winters" have involved a lot of T-shirts and flip-flops.


I hear people around here joking about climate change being real — because that's the only way to explain this never-ending heat.

At the same time I was complaining about how it was too hot for me to wear my out-of-style Uggs last winter, a polar vortex hit parts of the country.

And some people were seriously saying that the cold weather meant climate change couldn't be a thing.

Fact: Climate change means we're experiencing extreme weather conditions on both ends of the spectrum, often at the same time (in different places) — unseasonably warm weather and unseasonably frickin' freezing weather, floods, and droughts.

So yeah, I can joke that climate change is interfering with my shoe game...

...but in addition to making us irritatingly hot or toe-numbingly cold, climate change is putting at risk things we depend on, like water, food, and energy.

It's putting people at greater risk for infectious diseases (can we please put a fraction of the energy into caring about that as the media put into trying to make us panic about Ebola?) and heat-related deaths. I called 911 over the summer when I saw a homeless man sprawled out on the side of a freeway access road. The temperature was 116 degrees. Heat-related deaths will only increase as our temperatures do. The CDC found that between 1979 and 2002, 4,780 people died from hyperthermia that could be attributed to the weather. It scares me to think of the data that we'll have from the next 23-year period.

If these things aren't enough, let's talk about the one that motivates a lot of people (like, say, politicians): money. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy cost $65 BILLION.

Farmers are struggling to grow crops, thanks to endless droughts and floods. (Cost to farmers in the Midwest: $10 billion.) Water supplies in Arizona, California, and Nevada are at risk. California wildfires in 2014 have cost taxpayers $260 million.

Let's not forget that climate change is affecting everyone, everywhere. And it really hits hard in developing countries, where resources are often scarce to begin with.

So it's on all of us to do something. We can't ignore the problem, deny the problem, or assume someone else will figure it out.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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