The huge area of considerable warmth in the Pacific Ocean that has been hanging around for two years now is one of the main drivers for the sultry western weather, and is getting a boost from the very healthy El Niño event that looks to be in place through the end of the year.
These forces are also acting on the background warming that results from the extra heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by ever-increasing greenhouse gas levels, which increases the odds for such high temperature records.
The heat spells bad news for the tenacious drought that is now in its fifth year in California, as well as newly expanded drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest, which saw a paltry winter snowpack during the balmy winter.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up