It’s Hard to Write Headlines in a Heat Wave | Sojourners

It’s Hard to Write Headlines in a Heat Wave

Isis Macadaeg, age 7, plays in a spray park at Jefferson Park during a heat wave in Seattle on June 27, 2021. REUTERS/Karen Ducey

One hundred- and eight-degrees Fahrenheit. According to the University of Washington, that June day in 2021 was the hottest day ever recorded in the city of Seattle. And my fourth-floor apartment did not have air conditioning.

I was working remotely for Sojourners at the time. Stationed at my Ikea desk, I struggled to make sense of the pinging Slack messages. Everything was moving so quickly, but my hot, sticky hands felt heavy on the keyboard. Due to safety regulations, the single window in my apartment only opened a few inches. Even if I could have opened it further, it wouldn’t have helped much; there was no breeze.

Seattle is the least air-conditioned major metropolitan area in the nation, with only 44 percent of households having an air conditioning unit of some kind. Washington state estimated that 95 people died that week of heat-related causes, though that number is likely a gross underestimate. “Consider it a floor,” Lauren Rossen, a health statistician who works with mortality data, told The New York Times in 2021.

This morning, as I sat in my parent’s air-conditioned home in Virginia and watched temperatures rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit across Britain (where Britain’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy estimates that fewer than 5 percent of homes have air conditioning), I couldn’t help but think of the Seattle heat wave. And I felt angry. Livid that just a few days ago, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) had essentially chosen to let the planet burn before his eyes with no sign of remorse. Grieved that those who contribute the least to our warming planet will bear the brunt of wealthy nations’ sins. Most, and perhaps worst of all, I felt stuck. What do I do now?

It’s moments like these when I choose to cling tightly to the wisdom of those who have gone before, surrounding myself with their words as I make strategic plans for action. If you, like me, are struggling with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, may I recommend the following articles:

1. Raising Children for Joy in the Face of Climate Catastrophe
Climate catastrophe is upon us. We will know its touch, if we haven’t already, and our children will certainly know it. How do we keep grounded as we move from one crisis to the next? By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

2. Despite Hate From Evangelicals, Katharine Hayhoe Sees Climate Hope
Many people now recognize the climate crisis as a justice issue — not a niche concern. By Gina Ciliberto

3. Christians Must Avoid ‘Lifeboat Mentality’ in Climate Crisis
The gospel also contains plenty to challenge this mentality of escape, offering us different, better ways to face our fears and navigate loss. By Liuan Huska and Nate Rauh-Bieri

4. Mapping the Way to Climate Justice
Technology won’t solve anything if the human heart isn’t moved. By Élan Young

5. A Pledge to Resist Climate Change
Anger seems an apt response to global warming, given that the world’s climate crisis isn’t an unavoidable act of nature; rather, it’s rooted in intentional actions by people seeking power and wealth. By Jim Rice

6. Embracing Ancestral Wisdom to Fight Extreme Weather
Instead of Western theologies of dominance, Indigenous practices protect nature and humans as one. By Sandy Ovalle Martínez

7. Every Major Faith Tradition Has the Resources to Tackle Climate Change
Buried in scriptures and commentaries, the growing climate crisis demands that they be found. By Bill McKibben