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Warming trend is both global and local | Opinion – NJ.com

These days it is not uncommon to hear an avalanche of information about global warming, especially now that most of us are wilting in the heat. The British recently were baking in temperatures at or above 40 degrees Celsius. Translated for those who live in a Fahrenheit world, 40 C is 104 F. The Indian subcontinent has reached as high as 49.5 C, or 121.1 F. And so it goes.

The story has been much the same in the United States. From Las Vegas to New York City, some 100 million Americans have been slogging through temperatures hovering around 100 F. Until recently, such sustained high heat was somewhere else on the globe. As long as that was the case, global warming was no big deal and we could ignore it.

But what happens when global warming becomes local warming? In recent days in our little corner of the world in Cumberland County, temperatures have been in the upper 90s for multiple days. Last weekend, my outdoor thermometer, in the shade, hit 100F. The air was thick and oppressive. Now that things are local, we tend to pay attention. This heat isn’t your grandfather’s heat.

What we’re learning is that the heat is coming more frequently and staying longer, less of a “wave” and more like the the new normal. We’re also learning that the freakish heat in all those faraway places is actually linked and connected to what we experience locally. This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. The first is that we can’t pass it off with a “sucks-to-be-you” sentiment and, beyond that, it means we’re in for some tough days ahead.

While the science is a little above me, it seems that all the stuff we’ve managed to pump into the environment on our way to becoming civilized has played havoc with the jet stream. Now, we routinely have “heat domes” that trap hot air in one spot and there it sits for days on end.

Thinking globally is not easy and it does not come naturally.The only thing I can hope is that the scientists and those tasked with global leadership get serious about figuring out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. The best I can do on my own is think locally, and that translates into is worrying about our neighbors making it through these brutally hot days.

I think a lot about how fragile things are these days. Talk to people at the electric company, and they’re running at full capacity with unbelievably high demand. It makes me think we’re one bad transformer away from I don’t know what. The same holds true for the water supply. Seven counties — Monmouth, Ocean, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union — have been placed by supplier New Jersey American Water Co. on mandatory or voluntary use restrictions. We can’t take “comfortable” for granted.

For those without air conditioners and no real way to get to comfortable, Cumberland County has designated some cooling centers. In Bridgeton, they are the Bridgeton Public Library, 150 E. Commerce St., 856-451-2620; the county senior center in City Park, 455-4323; and the Cumberland County Library, 800 Commerce St., 453-2210.

In Millville, the centers are the Millville Public Library, 210 Buck St., 825-7087; and the Millville Sharing Center, 130 South Second St., 825-8779. The Vineland Public Library, 1058 E. Landis Ave., 794-4244, serves as that city’s cooling center.

Additional county locations are the West Cumberland Senior Center, 10 Cassidy Court, Hopewell, 455-1055; the Maurice River Township Senior Center, 590 Main St., Leesburg, 785-0325; the Louise Moore Senior Center, 8879 Highland St., Port Norris, 785-9817; the Edgar Joyce Senior Center, 1323 Route 77, Seabrook, 455-6902; and the Charlotte Brago Senior Center, 736 Landis Ave., Rosenhayn, 455-6902.

The federal government’s ready.gov website has more resources and tips for dealing with the extreme heat, including information about heat-related illnesses, caring for those people who may the most vulnerable to those medical problems, and protecting pets during exceptionally hot weather.

The bottom line is that we’re dealing with local warming. It will impact us no matter what our politics are on global warming. The takeaway is that how we prepare, and make ourselves more resilient and better equipped to deal with this heat, is something that must necessarily happen at all levels of government, locally and globally.

Albert B. Kelly is mayor of Bridgeton. Contact him by phone at 856-455-3230 Ext. 200.

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