Forget about Humans interaction with our Warming Climate. Think about the infrastructure we build for the last hundred years where one hundred degree Fahrenheit days ARE NOT THE Norm. Now every State in the union will have days over 1 Hundred Degrees and maybe weeks over one Hundred Degrees. Bear in mind that Minnesota had fires this summer around the Northern Lakes Region for the first time in memory. What is it gonna be like when the phone lines and the power lines come down. What is it gonna be like when the roads blow up. I do not mean catastrophic. I mean disruptive. I think disruptive is worse.
Nowhere Is Ready for This Heat
The Pacific Northwest is melting now, but all across America the infrastructure we have was built for the wrong century.
The Portland Streetcar is 20 years old, making it relatively sprightly for infrastructure in the United States. Yet it was built for a different geological epoch. On Sunday, while Portland suffered through what was then its hottest day ever, the system started to melt. As the temperature reached 112 degrees Fahrenheit, a power cable on a major bridge warped, twisted around some metal hardware, and scorched. Elsewhere, the wires that run above the track expanded and sagged so much that they risked touching the train cars. By mid-afternoon, the streetcar system had shut down. The trams, which run on 100 percent renewable energy, seem to offer exactly the sort of urban fast transit that the country needs to reduce carbon pollution. But they were not prepared for—they could not withstand—one of the region’s first wrenching encounters with the remade atmosphere.
At first blush, there isn’t much to say about the “heat dome” settled over the Pacific Northwest like a shroud. Here is the story: It is very hot. Portland’s hottest three days on record have been the past three: The city broke its all-time record on Saturday (108 degrees Fahrenheit), smashed it on Sunday (112 degrees), and broke it again yesterday (116 degrees). Seattle-Tacoma International Airport also set an all-time heat record yesterday (108 degrees). Farther north, the temperature in the town of Lytton, British Columbia, yesterday reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47.5 degrees Celsius—the hottest temperature ever measured anywhere in Canada. America’s northern neighbor now has the same all-time heat record as Las Vegas, hundreds of miles to the south. Portland’s all-time record now exceeds the all-time records for Dallas, Austin, Houston, and Atlanta. It is very hot.
Go there and sweat. More next week.