Last Updated: Thu Jul 21, 2011 22:52 pm (KSA) 19:52 pm (GMT)

Richard Burchfield / From Washington: How hot is too hot?

Former vice president and environmental activist Albert Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their efforts to build  up and disseminate greate knowledge about man-made climate change. (File Photo)
Former vice president and environmental activist Albert Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their efforts to build up and disseminate greate knowledge about man-made climate change. (File Photo)

In the US, a record heat wave has settled in the Midwest and doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon. A “heat dome” that’s stretching across the midsection of the US, covering about half of the country in blistering heat and humidity, has already killed at least 22 people this week, according to a recent report.

So I ponder. Is it only a matter of time before the diehard eco-punks come driving up in their hybrid vehicles to save the planet from the “evil empire” that’s killing our planet? Yes. I’m talking about what some Republicans and Tea-Party activists call “the myth of the greenhouse effect” or that global warming is a theory, not a fact.

That may be true. But, if we’re talking about facts, I recall a movie I saw back in 2006 titled An Inconvenient Truth, in which former vice president and environmental activist Al Gore offered his PowerPoint-style presentation in the form of an informational documentary. And oh yeah, he won the Nobel Peace Prize that year. I guess some people thought global warming was more than a myth.

This can tie in to just about everything that’s going on, politically, in the US. With the “we need a deal, not a default” mindset that both sides of the political spectrum are crying, some of the topics that come up in the debate is the movement toward the development of “green” or “alternative energy” sources into American society.

So the next time a politician walks out their front door and thinks to themselves about how miserable the heat is – in Washington, DC alone, Friday’s forecast calls for 116-degree heat index – maybe they’ll stop to think about what they can do to help the situation. After all, they have the power to change. Isn’t that their job… to create a safe living environment and propose new ways to enhance the American way of life?

Maybe we should start doing some more research into why our summers are becoming increasingly hotter and our winters are colder year to year. Maybe we should be investing in alternative energy sources. Maybe if we start “going green” we would see a change. I mean, it definitely couldn’t hurt, could it?

I remember from grade school the motto “Recycle. Reduce. Reuse.” We were taught to live by these verbs as children. Why not now, for a new generation, we implement a way of thinking that goes a step further? Let’s add “Recreate” to the end of that list. We can recreate the way we think, act, and live as a society to help people and the earth.

I also remember the phrase “Think globally. Act locally.” Maybe we shouldn’t ignore the signs. Perhaps we should embrace them. If we can do some things to help the planet, why shouldn’t we? It’s our home after all; shouldn’t we be cleaning it up once in a while? And if we do maybe we could have saved one of the 22 lives that were lost this week in the process, and I’m willing to bet a lot more. Or, we could sit around, doing what we’ve been doing, and wait for somebody like Al Gore to pop out of the side of our television or computer screens and say “I told ya so!”

(Richard Burchfield is an Intern at Al Arabiya News in Washington, DC. He is a participant in The Fund for American Studies and the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University (DC). He can be reached at richard.burchfield@mbc.net)

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