The first six months of 2006 were the hottest ever recorded in the United States. The National Climatic Data Center reports that more than 50 American cities have set record highs this summer.
It's prompted the New York Times' Bob Herbert to ask, "Hot enough yet?" (sub. only)
The heat wave burned its way east from California, where it killed more than 100 people. It moved relentlessly across the nation's midsection, sparking record-high temperatures in state after state, mimicking a heat wave that killed more than 700 people in the Midwest in 1995.
For the past couple of days it has tormented the East Coast, draining power systems and creating a hellish environment for the frail and infirm, and especially for the elderly poor struggling to survive without the blessings of air-conditioning.
You can't blame any single weather event on global warming. But with polar bears drowning because they can't swim far enough to make it from one ice floe to another; with the once-glorious snows of Kilimanjaro about to bring down the final curtain on their long, long run; with the virtual disappearance of Lake Chad in Africa, which was once the size of Lake Erie, it may be time to get serious about trying to slow this catastrophic trend.
Indeed, it's past time to get serious about this. That is, unless you're in the House Republican leadership.
--Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report