Tired of the heat? Get used to it.

by Guest Blogger

September 24, 2010

Todays forecast calls for 95 degrees in Washington, DC which could be a new record for September 24th. Just walking down the block for lunch I break into a sweat not to mention biking to work or going for a jog. I for one am looking forward to breaking out my fall jacket and being cool for a change, hopefully sometime soon!

We can all feel that this summers been hotter than usual. Last week NRDC did the math and found heat records were broken not only in DC, but in an amazing 37 states a devastation for anyone without air conditioning, and life-threatening to the old or feeble. But beside the heat stress, theres another problem we have to worry about bad air quality.

Hot, humid, stagnant air turns emissions from cars and coal-fired power plants into ground level ozone, otherwise known as smog. Besides being nasty to look at, smog is what might make your throat sore on a hot day, or cause an asthma attack. Its also linked to long term lung damage and premature death. Last week CATF calculated that 300 die each year in the DC area from poor air quality related to coal, that doesnt even take into account all the cars along the beltway.

Adding up all the bad air quality days this summer, its easy to see while were all so sick and tired of the heat. According to data from Clean Air Partners, 70 days since June had air quality that posed moderate to serious health risks in Metro DC, compared to 40 last summer and 30 in 2008.

Unfortunately, this summer is glimpse of whats to come. The U.S. government predicts more frequent heat waves like the one were experiencing this late in September. The U.S. climate impacts report released last year issued a dire prediction:

Analyses suggest that currently rare extreme heat waves will become much more common in the future. Higher temperatures and associated stagnant air masses are expected to make it more challenging to meet air quality standards, particularly for ground-level ozone (a component of smog).

Under constant pollutant emissions, by the middle of this century, Ozone Alert Days in the 50 largest cities in the eastern United States are projected to increase by 68 percent due to warming alone.

Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, the people responsible for all the hot and dirty air we breath (thank you API and ACCCE) sit in their air-conditioned K Street offices, spending millions to beat back progress toward clean energy. While we were sweating in Metro stations, Big Oil spent $75 million lobbying this year, and coal and power companies over $100 million.

In the latest round this week, theyre using their usual politics of fear to scare away better air quality, ignoring the fact that an Energy [R]evolution would create millions of new jobs, while also improving air quality.

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