Living with Coronavirus
Sunday July 11th, 2021
I know, I know . . . it is the act of an asshole to ask about the heat during a damn heat wave.
“I walk around in the summertime saying “How about this heat?”—Dennis Leary, the asshole song.
Yet the heat today is a tad different. We are now in the third major heat wave of summer. The first one was where we expect, but the second one extended all the way to the artic circle. In Canada a biologist discovered that all the mussels, for many miles of beachhead, were dead. Cooked where they lay in shallow waters by the heat. Now those shores are not lined with mussels filtering the water, but dead mussels polluting the water.
The heat today extends to Montana and is roasting the already pre-roasted western deserts and also everything else nearby. That will include all of California’s growing crops. “Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California.”-CDFA statistics. So bottom line, your grocery bills are about to inflate. We shall see how much down the road a bit.
Death Valley, which holds the records for highest temp ever recorded on the entire planet and the longest streak of days in excess of 120 F/48 C, might well break both records in this wave. Streets buckled and connections melted in Seattle, because it was not built for desert temperatures. The temperatures of playground equipment pushes 170F/76C, hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns in seconds.
Nothing in America, or the world at large has been built to withstand the weather effects we are now facing. Many years ago, the IPCC panel stated that climate change will cause all weather effects to increase both in frequency and intensity. I do not think many people stopped and considered that, and over the years I have pointed out exactly how dramatic that statement is. If you increase the frequency of rain, it rains more often. If you increase intensity, more inches of rain fall. So, it will rain more often and be heavier as well. Now extrapolate that to fucking everything. Heat, drought, floods, hurricanes and everything else plus the kitchen sink. Nothing in human infrastructure was designed for this.
So, in the most extreme mega drought we have recorded in our South West we add even more heat, repeatedly. How do you think that affects drought? It also makes all those forests in the mountains of our west as dry as tinder and sparks dry lighting as well. So, we have more frequent and intense wildfires. Right now, a Nor Cal fire and an Oregonian fire have combined to create a new uncontrolled fire which threatens the power grid of both states and Nevada. If the grid collapses or is burnt up, tens of millions would have no power in triple digit heat. No electric to pump water or run AC, and very quickly we are in very dangerous territory.
All of cattle country is, and has been, under these heat domes. Cattle need a lot of water, especially in a heat wave in a Mega-drought.
Cattle Age / Weight Group Daily Cattle Water Requirements
gpd (lpd) gallons per day (liters per day)
Dry Cows & Heifers 6-15 gpd (23-57 lpd)
Lactating Cows 11-18 gpd (42-68 lpd)
Bulls 7-19 gpd (26-72 lpd)
Growing Cattle (400 lbs) 3.5-10 gpd (13-38 lpd)
Growing Cattle (600 lbs) 5-14.5 gpd (19-55 lpd)
Growing Cattle (800 lbs) 6-17.5 gpd (22.7-66 lpd)
Finishing Cattle (1000 lbs) 8.5-20.5 gpd (32-77 lpd)
Finishing Cattle (1200 lbs) 9.5-23 gpd (36-87 lpd)
Dairy Cattle 10-25 gpd (38-95 lpd)
from Lance Brown, ed., BC Livestock Watering Manual, 1990: 2-4, BC Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
So, every rancher has a big problem right now. So too with farmers and even the potatoes of Idaho. All thanks to us and our human impact on climate and ignoring the peril of that impact for forty years up to this point.
It does not end there for the USA, it begins there. In the south east we have already had one hurricane/tropical storm which caused floods and flash floods all along the eastern seaboard. In the Midwest it is severe weather outbreak after severe weather outbreak. Frequency and intensity, remember? All our major growing areas and animal husbandry areas are affected already, and will continue to be affected. Every American can expect their food budget to become more and more expensive over the months and years to come.
In the third world these effects cause famine. Famine we, as Americans, have contributed many food resources to help with in the past. In the future we won’t have the surplus we do now, thanks to the weather and climate, so we won’t be able to aid others as much, if at all. That will spell catastrophe.
The biologist in Canada who spotted dead mussels is but the tip of that iceberg. Biologists around the globe have been studying how increased temperatures in coastal waters affect the food chain. They found out years ago that many species live in select niches, where they are fine between temps A and B, but anything above or below that by as little as one degree F causes mass die offs in crabs, mussels, clams and so on. These heat events not only bleach coral reefs, they are breaking the food chain all over the globe.
Year after Year we keep having massive wildfire seasons. Few people seem to consider the lasting effects as the fires themselves are terrifying. However, if we burn 50 million acres year after year, and it takes decades to regrow these areas of forest, then how much carbon is no longer sequestered by those forests? Wildfires do not burn the areas already burnt; they add to the burnt areas. The forests were big, long term carbon sinks, but every year more millions of acres burn and become carbon filled smoke and charcoal. The fires release vast amounts of carbon in the fires and destroy the very thing which was sequestering carbon for us, a double whammy. We release the stored carbon into the air via wildfires and destroy the forest which was a carbon sink as we do so.
And yes, it is we who do it. It is we who ignored the warnings in the 80’s and 90’s, and set up the west for the mega drought and resulting wildfires. We might not have set the spark, but we poured the gasoline.
Even if the weather is not impacting you directly, it will impact your wallet, and perhaps even your stomach. Reminds me of an old John Fogerty song, “Change in the Weather”; now while I am sure John was talking social politics, it sadly seems to apply to our plight with actual weather.
“High noon, I can’t believe my eyes,
Wind is ragin’, there’s a fire in the sky.
Ground shakin’, everything comin’ loose,
Run like a coward but it ain’t no use.
Edge of the river, it’s an ugly scene,
People gettin’ pushed, people gettin’ mean.
The change is comin’ and it’s gettin’ late,
Ain’t no survivin’, and there ain’t no escape.”—John Fogerty
In covid news we have what I expected, again. I am very tired of sharing what leading epidemiologists warn about, watching as a quarter of my fellow Americans ignore or even deride that advice, and then watching that very thing come to pass. Last year when we were awaiting a vaccine, I said we would need to move fast and inoculate the globe before the bug mutates into something even newer, unaffected by the vaccine.
For the last 4 days we have been at the 20,000+ new cases per day, a level we were at in May. Then we were declining past that waypoint, now we are turning the other way. Almost all the new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated, nearly 99% of all new cases. This is the new Delta strain, both more infectious and more likely to produce serious disease than the original flavor. As expected, and predicted by myself and many others, it is blooming in the least vaccinated areas, which are “Red State” GOP dominated areas.
Could it be that the political and medical misinformation still being spread in right wing media is responsible for this?
Do you think anyone will be held responsible?
Maine is called “Vacationland”, and as half of our residents are “Snowbirds” we fit the name. Almost half our population is strictly seasonal, hence the name snowbirds; they fly away from the snow and return with the melt off. In summer we rely on vacationers and tourists for a lot of the state’s revenue and a lot of people’s living depends upon vacationers. They are here now in the tourist areas, on the lakes and beaches, and eating lobster on the coast.
Since we now know that any vaccinated person is capable of both contracting the Delta variant, and then spreading it asymptomatically, I expect our numbers to rise over the next few weeks. Since climate change has made our local climate both colder and wetter this season, I expect droves to attempt to escape the heat waves by vacationing here in Maine. If these visitors cause a spike here, I fear for our hospitals, as we are not outfitted for all the visitors in a crisis. We don’t have the population to require lots of ICU beds and ventilators. I hope the majority are vaccinated, but there is no law requiring visitors or even residents to become vaccinated.
The inconvenience of getting a jab for some people infringes on their sense of personal liberty. They clearly do not understand the notion of the common good. They obviously do not embrace the notion that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”-Gene Rodenberry: inspired by “It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong.” – Jeremy Bentham. To these folks their selfish sense of personal liberty is of more import than your life or death.
Global Infected 183,505,842 186,506,329
7-day average 428,641 infections diagnosed daily –UP
Global Dead 3,971,956 4,025,993
7-day average 7,719 deaths daily –UP
USA Infected 33,713,912 33,848,726
7-day average 19,259 infections diagnosed daily –UP
USA C-19 deaths 605,493 607,132
7-day average 228 deaths daily –UP
Maine Infected 69,099 69,219
7-day average 17 infections diagnosed daily –DOWN
Maine deaths 860 862
7-day average 0.2857 deaths daily –STATIC
As I remained in my hilltop retreat another 54,037 of my fellow humans died of Covid-19, of those 1,639 were my fellow Americans, and of those 2 were my fellow Mainers.