Sunday, October 18, 2015

Department of things I didn't know, but probably should have

Is this also news to you?

Through much of July and August the Middle East suffered through an unprecedented heat wave that settled over the entire region for weeks, with temperatures reaching above 120 degrees for days at a time. Factoring in the heat index — the combination of surface temperature and humidity that tells you what the human body is actually experiencing — the feel-like temperature on July 30 in the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr reached 164 degrees, the second-highest ever recorded on earth. The heat index reached 156 degrees that day in parts of southern Iraq. You can set your oven to that temperature and cook a chicken.

Israel caught the worst of the heat wave in August, which was the country’s hottest month on record. The hottest single day in most parts of the country was August 16, with a heat index topping 150 degrees in some of the inland valleys. Arguably worse, though, was the freak dust storm, the worst in the country’s history, that blanketed Israel along with Lebanon and Syria as well as parts of Egypt and Cyprus for a week in early September. Dust storms in the region rarely last more than a day, and a storm at the end of the summer is unprecedented. Three people died from weather conditions in Israel this summer and hundreds were hospitalized. Once again, scientists were stumped.

If there’s a common denominator in these natural disasters, it’s that each one sets a new record for the worst ever, except when it’s an unprecedented first-ever. The days of predicting that carbon emissions will eventually warm the globe with likely calamitous impact are finished. We have arrived. The calamitous impacts are here.

The source is J.J. Goldberg writing in the Forward, the New York City-based Jewish newspaper. Goldberg is an editor-at-large of the publication where he previously served as editor from 2000-2007. Before that he worked in education and journalism in both Israel and the United States.

So why is Goldberg writing about climate crisis in the Middle East? Because he wants his fellow sympathizers with Zionism to think about what it means to hitch their fortunes to a U.S. Republican Party mired in climate change denial. He's thoughtful.

At some point, denial of reality, of whatever sort, becomes unsustainable.

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