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12th July 2021
Ed Vasicek Columnist Jul 9, 2021

We have seen plenty of good and bad news this summer. Summer activities are running full blast: Park Band concerts, the Haynes-Apperson festival, Howard County fireworks, Jackrabbits games — to name a few. But this summer has its share of bad news too. A condominium building collapses in Florida, and many die. Hurricanes and tropical storms are on the way. Then we experienced a heatwave in the Northwest, from which hundreds have died.

One might not expect a simmering heatwave so far north. Experience tells us that going north means cooler temperatures, south warmer. Even the birds get this.According to the Washington Post, “The most severe heat wave in the history of the Pacific Northwest has climaxed, obliterating scores of long-standing records in both the U.S. and Canada. ... Perhaps the most astonishing heat occurred Tuesday in British Columbia where the high temperature in the village of Lytton soared to 121 degrees, setting Canada’s national heat record for a third straight day. For perspective, this temperature is more extreme than the all-time high in Las Vegas, 117, and higher than most places in the Lower 48 states outside the Desert Southwest.

“A … state record high temperature was set in Oregon, where Hermiston, about 185 miles east of Portland, surged to 118 degrees. This occurred just one day after Dallesport, Wash., also hit 118, preliminarily tying a Washington state record.”

These are real temperatures, not the confusing “heat index.” In addition, note that 118 degrees merely tied — but did not exceed — the Washington State record. For comparison, the highest temperature ever recorded in Indiana was 116 degrees in 1936 (the “dust bowl” year). But Indiana is much further south than Washington. So how do the experts explain why this happened?

If you ever felt the hot air on the other end of an air conditioner (due to compression), that is what happened in the northwest!

Most of the world copes with heat by drinking lots of water, swimming or walking through a cool mist.

In the U.S., summer is the time of year when the water pressure can be low as more of us water our lawns, shower more often, or fill up our pools. According to National Geographic, “Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a third ... ”

Our vast oceans are filled with salt water, and over 16,000 desalination plants operate throughout the world. Scientists are making breakthroughs in their attempts to inexpensively filter salt out of water.

“Korean scientists claim a new desalination technique makes sea water fit to drink in minutes. The researchers used a membrane distillation process that resulted in 99.9% salt rejection for one month. If commercialized, they say the solution could help alleviate the drinking water crisis exacerbated by climate change. More than 3 billion people worldwide are affected by water shortages ... ”

Although others have sought to develop nanofiber membranes, they are troublesome and undependable. The above mentioned scientists, in contrast, have significantly improved the design; their filters can last 30 days and are dependable (source:

Earth can be a hot and thirsty planet! We need to gain expertise when it comes to heat management, and we need to keep innovating ways to keep our water towers full!