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June 9th, 2008
03:30 PM ET

Mercury Rising

A man tries to cool himself with a bottle of water during the first heat wave of the year in New York City.

A man tries to cool himself with a bottle of water during the first heat wave of the year in New York City.

Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

As a firm believer in the theory that misery loves company, I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that millions of other East Coast residents are also sweating through their shirts today. Yet, despite this knowledge, I’m still cranky. My neighbors are cranky. Even my dog is cranky. When I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk this morning, she didn’t even get up off the floor, she just gave me the finger. I didn’t even know dogs could do that.

I’m not tremendously well versed on Global Warming. I believe that it exists and tell myself that if I ever move out of Manhattan and buy a car it will be a hybrid. I bought some of those energy saving light bulbs but – I’ll be honest – they made me look like Herman Munster so I replaced them with regular ones. I realize that I am part of the problem.

This heat wave is hitting the East Coast while Anderson and the Planet in Peril team travel overseas to document environmental battle lines. The irony is not lost on me. When one thinks of global environmental emergencies, one tends to think of far off rain forests and jungles. And while those are are indeed in peril, so are our cities and towns, our cul-de-sacs and apartment buildings. Our elderly neighbors, those without the money to afford air conditioning – they, too, are in peril as temperatures rise. Don’t take my word for it. I’m not even a genuine environmentalist; I’m just an angry, sweaty person.

So, what can be done? What is being done? Where are the battle lines and how can we help? The next installment of Planet in Peril will hopefully begin to answer these questions.

In the meantime, I sit in my apartment with a box of frozen peas resting on my chest (don’t act like you’ve never done it), Labrador Retriever at my feet, wondering where Al Gore is when I need him. Doesn’t he have a hotline for concerned citizens who were too cheap to buy his DVD? I Google “global warming.” Bar graphs, pie charts, lots of numbers. Yawn. I wish my computer had a frozen drink maker built into it. I Google “frozen drink maker.” I realize that I am part of the problem.

Editor's note: You can read about this and other Planet in Peril stories here.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Mel Araiza, Phoenix, AZ

    I don't know if people experience heat differently, but I'm in AZ and it's 104 degrees over here. I don't feel it as much, guess I'm used to it. It'll be around 107 tomorrow and by the time july rolls around I'm guessing we'll have highs of about 112 or more. And people in the north think they're hot. HA!

    But the thing about living in Phoenix is that it is not humid. It's just hot. If you stand outside you don't sweat, you get burned! You literally feel like you're in an oven with no sweat glands. Maybe the heat evaporates the sweat before it can build up. *sigh* what I wouldn't give to live somewhere up north, like Washington or Canada.

    June 9, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  2. Deb from Boston

    I love this blog! You crack me up. Let's just say I have a gorgeous swimming pool in my backyard and it is a lovely shade of GREEN for this wonderful heat wave. Talk about bad timing- we have spent $700 on chemicals trying to clear it up for the past 3 weeks...finally drained the sucker and having fresh water delivered tomorrow. Oh the cruelty.
    Ya people have much bigger problems but i want to go swimming i wont deny it. I am also part of the problem:)

    June 9, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Jack

    Sorry its so hot where you are. Its hot here too – the parking lots at the end of the day feel like they are soft and give as you walk across them to your car. Its a little early for this to happen – usually it does about July.

    There's all sorts of planet in peril stories in the states too – the impact on the Great Lakes, the glaciers melting in the West where they get a lot of their fresh drinking water, droughts that just go on and on, food crops being abandoned by farmers to grow crops for biofuels, the coal industry and their mountain top removal process clear cutting the trees in the Appalachian Mountains and then blowing the mountain top off, polluting the streams and the ground water. The list goes on and on; I'm looking forward to PIP and realize the end to show what is happening all over the world, but I hope that there will be some coverage of how the US is being impacted – when it hits home people tend to listen more.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 9, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  4. arlene lahera

    And speaking of conservation....REGARDING OIL
    Why does the only Republican answer to energy independance need to be the President 's own mantra of going "nuke-ular" and drilling at Anwar?

    Why when during the 70's gas wars, Mechanics Illustrated unveiled an " inertial storage transmission" engine that used 50% less gas and was a fairly simple adaptation to modern autos.
    I know because I wrote and received very excited letters from many politicians among them Clay Shaw and Strom Thurmond who wanted to be associated with this revolutionary vehicle and take part in our Trans-Continental Publicity Drive across the US. It was a very exciting time.
    Within a year our patent was purchased by an energy company and the Inertial Storage Transmission heralded as the way of the future, was put on a shelf never to be seen again.
    This is only one of many ideas I imagine sitting somewhere next to the lifetime battery, razor blade and light bulb.

    REGARDING WATER. Now we are speaking of an oil crisis – A day not so far away we will be talking this way about DRINKING WATER!

    Here in Florida it is very dry now. We don't get a lot of rain and it bothers me to release my grey water from bath water, laundry water and dishes down the drain while I must watch my lawn die.
    We are only allowed to water twice a week during certain hours.
    Why in the name of Gods Green Earth don't we already have an easy way to recycle this totally useable grey water? I paid for it already from the City and instead of it flushing down the drain why can't I use it to water my own lawn?

    June 9, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  5. caren from los angeles

    Jack,

    Reading your blog makes me wonder why I'm leaving Los Angeles and moving to NYC soon! I'm from Atlanta, so I remember the word "humidity" and it ain't pretty. Just as Tom Foreman was saying the other say about adapting to high gas prices, I guess we all have to learn how to adapt to high temperatures, because they'll most likely be here for awhile. CNN is good about presenting problems to us via PIP and PIP2 and shows of that nature, but it'd be even nicer if they could present solutions or suggestions for us on how to deal with it.

    June 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  6. jamie

    jack-all i can say is hysterical! Here in philly, a stone throw away from NYC its topping 100. My long haired cat, Fluffy, and two short haired Socrates and Princess Fatty were miserable all day meowing until I turned the air on...I've never heard more purring in my life.

    I don't eat peas but im sure a nice frozen cocktail is in my future!

    Jamie, philly

    June 9, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  7. arlene lahera

    I lived in the USVI where there is usually a balmy breeze and electric to run air conditioners. I say usually because after a hurricane passes it can easily leave islanders without any AC. This is normally bearable except the hurricane also takes the weather, wind and breeze along with it – leaving a mosquito breeding stillness and sweltering heat one cannot escape without jumping into the bathwater warm caribbean sea. I learned how the expression "crazy from the heat" came about.
    We used to work in wet tshirts when it was that hot and unless someone touched you they couldn't tell your shirt was wet. More formal dressers can wear a thin damp undershirt under a looser overshirt to act a little like a personal air conditioner.
    People also spritzed them selves to keep their clothing damp and I have to say it really helps!

    June 9, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  8. Minou, New York City

    Oh Jack, as a fellow New Yorker I feel your pain...
    I don't have AC because I have super high ceilings and drafty windows, so it doesn't work, it only makes lots of noise and sucks money out of my wallet...so I got rid of it.
    My Pomeranian couldn't get a grooming appointment on short notice today, and so I grabbed the scissors and cut her fluff off....she looks terrible, but at least she's cooler now.
    I do have AL Gore's book and his DVD, I have energy saving light bulbs and only my toilet bowl cleaner is environmentally unfriendly. Since I live in NYC I thankfully don't need a car and I grocery shop with my reusable bags. So I feel pretty good about myself in that department.
    I think people do slowly get on the green wagon and change their ways. Call me a nut, but I do believe it.
    Now let me look for those frozen peas in my freezer....

    June 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    We had a family shiz tsu who regularly gave us the finger when she didn't like our suggestions. Living in South Louisiana, I can empathize with the heat misery. Today I was telling a co-worker I was scrapping a trip to NYC until at least the fall because the summer heat gets so brutal up there. Thanks for reminding me why Broadway, MOMA, and shopping can wait.

    June 9, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  10. Laura, Boston

    I really never have rested frozen peas on my chest. But I'm totally thawing dinner on my forehead tonight! No microwaves here! Thanks for the tip!

    June 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  11. Carol B., Virginia

    Sorry to hear of your misery. We had some rolling blackouts the last week- not fun. Anyhow, your blog is really funny although it's a shame you have to suffer for your art. Take care.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  12. sam

    Come out West my friend! Gas may cost $5/gallon but at least it's nice spring like out here in the Golden State!! Only 70 today!

    June 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  13. Michael, NC

    Jack, just reading your blog makes me dread going outside and kicking a soccer ball around. I try to get outside and throw baseball, toss a football, shoot some hoops, or swing a golf club every day.
    It's 103 here in eastern NC, but I can't sit in my apartment all day or else I will feel like a useless blob who does nothing but take away from society. I don't know how we can solve the warming climate, it doesn't seem to have a cure to me, but I figure me being active outside is better for the environment than blasting my apartment's AC all day.
    Best of luck in your battle against the heat, sounds like we are all going to have to sweat it out this week.

    June 9, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Hey...I feel your pain Jack! It is in the high 90's here in Georgia and that is way higher temps than it should be this time of year. They are saying it'll be in around 106 or so by the time summer is really here! All I can say is THANK GOD for my air conditioning! LO Can't live with out it down here!

    Cindy...Ga.

    June 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  15. Nagore, London, UK

    Hi jack!

    you shouldn´t be complaining... in the North of Spain they have had 2 rounds of floods in 2 weeks when and it is quite cold (16/17 C) when they should be going to the beach and enjoying the sunshine.

    Meanwhile in London we´re somewhere in between really enjoying some sunny, hot weather for a change

    Thanks for the daily blogs! they keep me updated on the daily shennanigans americans get into

    June 9, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  16. Sherri

    For those who say they don't believe in global warming I say- either you are fabulously wealthy and can afford decent air conditioning, or the heat has fried your brain. Living in Northern California, we used to have winter. You had ice on your windshield. You wore heavy coats and gloves. You turned your heater on in the house. You carried an umbrella. I haven't worn my winter coat in twelve years. My gloves in over five. I wear a light sort of windbreaker/raincoat thing. Most of the winter months- just a sweatshirt. Used to be – you stopped mowing the lawn in late September and resumed again in March or April. I mowed the day before Thanksgiving- and could have done it again if I had not vowed I wouldn't. I began mowing again the first week of February. Began watering the lawn and plants so they would not turn to dust in late February. Trees and plants bloom too early or too late- confused by the Earth's messages. WE (all of us) have to decrease our addiction to massive amounts of non renewable resources. WE have to stop using the oceans for a garbage receptacle. WE have to stop our disposable society. Is not the enormous number of cataclysmic weather extremes since the first of this year a warning? 20 earthquakes in Reno, tens of thousands of lightning strikes, hundreds of tornados, more earthquakes all over the globe. We have attempted to make natural deserts into lush oasis. WE have got to stop paving paradise. WE have got to end clear cutting and the destruction of rain forests. I can't say I miss scraping ice off the windshield- but in a way it beats trying to find Christmas themed flipflops (no disrespect intended to our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere)

    June 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm |