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John J. Berger, It’s Bloody Hot!

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re now distinctly on another planet. Only recently, two weeks before summer officially starts, the temperature hit 113 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona (and 11 people waiting in line to enter a Trump rally had to be hospitalized due to heat exhaustion). In fact, the whole Southwest and parts of the West were broiling under a “heat dome,” as was Florida in temperatures that were rare or unknown at this season. And the U.S. was anything but alone. Like last year, fires were already burning again in Canada, sending smoke south; a devastating heat dome sat over Mexico; and don’t even think about South Asia, where temperatures have recently gone wild. Yikes!

All of this at a time when May was the 12th month in a row to set a historic global heat record and, given temperatures on this planet, June might not be far behind. Oh, and don’t forget the ocean waters either. The tropical Atlantic Ocean recently hit record heat highs, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to predict a particularly violent hurricane season for the Eastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico.

And to throw something else into the mix, in Europe, the far right only recently scored a series of victories in elections for the European Union, previewing a potential climate backlash there. In other words, that region, which has taken far more green steps than the U.S., may not be taking many more. And were the same thing to happen in the U.S. and Donald Trump became president again, a lot more Americans would be hospitalized due to heat exhaustion. With all of that in mind, let environmental policy specialist John J. Berger, author of Solving the Climate Crisis: Frontline Reports from the Race to Save the Earth (from which the ideas in this piece were adapted), offer some fresh ideas on how we Americans might actually be able to deal better with the disaster our planet’s becoming. Tom

A National Climate Action Plan

Why We Need It and How to Do It

While April and May are usually the hottest months in many countries in Southeast Asia, hundreds of millions of people are now suffering in South Asia from an exceptionally intense heat wave that has killed hundreds. One expert has already called it the most extreme heat event in history. Record-breaking temperatures above 122º F were reported in the Indian capital of New Delhi and temperatures sizzled to an unheard of 127º F  in parts of India and Pakistan.

Nor was the blazing heat limited to Asia. Heat waves of exceptional severity and duration are now occurring simultaneously in many areas of the world. Mexico and parts of the United States, notably Miami and Phoenix, have recently been in the grip of intense heat events. In southern Mexico, endangered howler monkeys in several states have been falling dead from trees in their tropical forests due to heat stroke and dehydration. Below-average rainfall throughout Mexico has led to water shortages in Mexico City and elsewhere. In some places, birds and bats, not to speak of humans, are also dying from the heat.

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Bob Dreyfuss, The Middle East and Election 2024

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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me urge any of you preparing to read Bob Dreyfuss’s new piece to first take a moment to visit our donation page. Only you can help ensure that TD keeps on doing (through the perilous November to come) what it’s done these last 23 years. Think of it this way: you’ll also be helping ensure that all of Dreyfuss’s series of pieces — the second today on Israel and Gaza — comparing the past and potential future foreign policies of Joe Biden and Donald Trump will become a reality, while TomDispatch will be able to continue offering views about this increasingly disturbed world of ours that you don’t often see elsewhere. And many, many thanks in advance for your generosity! Believe me, it really does make all the difference. Tom]

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, might the ongoing disaster in Gaza prove the boxing equivalent of a preliminary bout? Imagine that, as Israel continues to use U.S.-supplied weaponry to slaughter women and children in that devastated 25-mile strip of land. After all, there’s increasing muttering in the Israeli government about the possibility of invading Lebanon to take on Hezbollah rebels there. Only recently, Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi claimed “that the army was ready to move to an offensive in the north.” Already, the two sides there have been exchanging long-range fire.

The Biden administration, worried enough over the devolving situation in Gaza, has indeed been warning the Israelis not to invade Lebanon, lest a full-scale regional war, including with Iran, were to break out. As State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller put it recently, the Biden administration remains “incredibly concerned about the risk of escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border.” And Biden’s officials have indeed begun publicly insisting that a “limited war” there “would not be possible” and that any such Israeli action could escalate “beyond control.”

Nonetheless, the chief of the Israeli armed forces recently suggested that “preparations” were complete and a decision to launch just such an offensive might be imminent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned of the possibility of an “intense campaign” there, while the wildly right-wing National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has been insisting that “now the IDF’s [Israeli army’s] job is to destroy Hezbollah.”

In other words, the possibility of the war in Gaza developing into a devastating regional conflict is increasing in a distinctly ominous fashion. And in that grim context, check out today the second of a series of pieces planned for the coming months about Joe Biden’s and Donald Trump’s thoughts and positions on key foreign policy issues, as the 2024 election approaches here in the U.S. Let TomDispatch regular Bob Dreyfuss once again consider the two aging men running for president and what to make of them, in this case, when it comes to Israel and Gaza. Tom

Trump or Biden on Israel?

It’s No Contest

Recently, I attended a demonstration called by groups opposing the carnage in Gaza, where eight months of air, ground, and sea attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces have leveled entire quadrants of cities and killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. Many of the participants, justly outraged by the ongoing mass murder triggered by Hamas's October 7th terrorist massacre, bitterly criticized President Biden over his continuing support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war.

Asked about the likely choice in November between Biden and Donald Trump, the consensus among the demonstrators was that they wouldn’t vote for “Genocide Joe,” and that there was nothing to choose from between Biden and Trump when it comes to Middle East policy. Some would simply stay home, while some might vote for the Green Party or another third party, and even those who might eventually pull the lever for Biden pledged to vote "uncommitted" in any primary to “send a message to the White House.”

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Stan Cox, Losing Our Cool in the Twenty-First Century

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Wow! Be impressed, very impressed!

One thing we humans certainly value is setting records. Sports, for instance, would be almost meaningless without them. And as it happens, we’re now on a record-setting streak when it comes to the weather. Globally, the month of May just came in as the Babe Ruth of all Mays, the hottest ever and that means we can now experience the full power of record-setting. (Let me just suggest that you get into a short-sleeved shirt and shorts before you read the rest of this!) One after another, the last 12 months globally have been the hottest 12 in human history (and undoubtedly way before that as well!).  And May was the 11th straight month when temperatures also breached the 1.5C threshold set as the limit for temperature rise at the 2015 Paris climate accords.

Oh, and in case you’re not living in the American Southwest where temperatures have been soaring lately (117 degrees in an ongoing heat wave scorching South Texas) or in South Asia — India’s capital, Delhi, only recently experienced a temperature of 127 (no, that is not a misprint!), as did part of Pakistan — just know that, thanks to the never-ending burning of fossil fuels, this planet is getting ever hotter. That means the air conditioning will be going on ever more often (if, of course, you can even afford to have it). If you’re confined in a Texas prison without air conditioning, as J. David Goodman recently reported in the New York Times, then you may be desperately out of luck:

“In more than a dozen interviews this week, current and former inmates, as well as their relatives and friends, described an elemental effort at survival going on inside the prisons, with inmates relying on warm water, wet towels and fans that push hot air. Some flooded their cells with water from their combination sink-toilets, lying on the wet concrete for relief. Others, desperate for the guards’ attention, lit fires or took to screaming in unison for water or for help with an inmate who had passed out.”

As it happens, TomDispatch regular Stan Cox is something of an expert on air conditioning (he even wrote a book on the subject), both what it does to save us from extreme heat and to cause yet more of it… sigh… but let him explain. Tom

Air Conditioning

Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

The odds are that the entire continental United States will swelter through a hotter-than-normal summer this year. And no surprise there. It seems as if that's been the forecast every spring for years now. But this summer promises to eclipse even the summer of 2023, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, was the hottest since at least the year 1 AD, according to tree-ring analysis. You read that correctly: this summer may be hotter than any summer in the last 2,024 years (and undoubtedly many tens of thousands before that, since tree rings can take the data back only so far).

The world’s hot future has already arrived in parts of the Global South, thanks largely to past greenhouse gas emissions mainly from the Global North. On May 29th, in Delhi, India, residents suffered under record-melting 127-degree heat. Earlier in May, deadly heat descended on Southeast Asia. The heat index (the “feels like” temperature that takes humidity into account) exceeded 125 degrees in both Manila and Bangkok this spring, thereby “rewriting climatic history,” according to experts.

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