Saturday night I was driving to a gig with a salsa band. To reach the venue in O’Fallon, Missouri, I had to take I-270 north to I-64 west. The entire landscape looked like it had been put under a toaster oven, a sick golden crispy brown from the unrelenting heat that reached 108 degrees.
While I was driving and contemplating how I really should move north as soon as possible, the electrical poles on either side of the Interstate ahead of me burst into blue flame, sending power lines crashing down right in front of my car and setting fire to the grass on either side of the road. With a couple of seconds to react, I drove over the power lines, excited that the tires truly are insulators. I then called 911.
The electrical grid was straining under the demands of a people forced inside – and into inefficient homes armed with central air conditioning. The hotter it is, the more we depend on our suburban starter castles, unreachable by anything but automobiles. And of course, Missouri’s electricity comes 80% from coal.
Given the role of fossil fuels on climate change, this is a vicious circle that will lead to a hot and unstable future.