Hot and bothered - article 470

Susie Cagle

Things are going to get a lot warmer around here. And everywhere.

Even if the entire global economy woke up tomorrow morning, drank its coffee, and swore off fossil fuels, our future would still unfold at higher temperatures than our past. You can dream up wisecracking variations on “Hot enough for you?” and “Getting hot in here!” all day — believe me, we have — and that fact would just sit there, staring dejectedly at you and refusing to crack a smile.

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Here at Grist we looked at the news, eyed the calendar, and decided that it’s time to turn our gaze in the thermometer’s direction. Our theme of the month for May is Hot and Bothered — which is not just how we feel about what our carbon emissions are doing to the climate, but also, increasingly, how we’re all going to feel about what the climate is doing to us.

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Here’s some of what we’re working on this month:

  • Not so hot? Not so fast
    Perhaps you’ve heard the statistic that’s been going around suggesting that the planet has not, in fact, grown any hotter for 15 years? We’ll untangle what’s true in this claim, what’s not, and why it’s not a “get out of jail free” card for climate-change deniers. (Hint: It may well have to do with oceans.)
  • Hot towns
    As summers just keep getting hotter, which American cities are the most screwed — and which best placed to ride out the rougher weather?
  • Wildfires
    Last year, they burned an area the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. How much worse can they, will they get? And why do we keep making our homes in places likely to be threatened by them?
  • Heat map
    All summer, our handy-dandy 50-state map will track wildfires, droughts, storms — all U.S. disasters that are potentially related to rising temperatures. By autumn, we’ll have a record of all the scars this season will have wrought on our landscape.
  • Now you see it
    We’re putting together a stunning gallery of before-and-after shots of those places where once, there were glaciers, and now, there aren’t.
  • Don’t just sweat there — do something??
    As warming trends continue, so does the rising chorus of can-do optimists who argue that we have the technical capacity — and perhaps the moral obligation — to geoengineer our way out of the climate mess. Can humankind somehow pull down the Earth’s shades? Should it? Grist, along with Earth Island Journal, is hosting a live discussion on this question this Thursday in Berkeley, Calif., at 7 p.m. Join us for “Hack the Sky” if you’re nearby!

These and other stories await you during Grist’s Hot and Bothered theme for May. Got other ideas along these lines? Tell us below in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook.