Beat the heat!: Five simple solutions for dealing with the increasingly deadly summer situation

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Photo by A.V. Eichenbaum
Photo by A.V. Eichenbaum

Citizens of the Emerald City are wilting in the sun and the polar ice caps aren't going to stop melting anytime soon. Less than half of Seattle residents have access to air conditioning, the lakes are getting crowded, and the planet's burning while we sip iced coffee and argue about plastic straws — Here are some simple solutions to beat the summer heat!

Stay hydrated
Luckily for Seattleites, we're in a location that hasn't been as affected by the droughts and subsequent famine causing strife in many parts of the world. Drink up! However, there will be a drought-related food shortage affecting things like hummus, rice, and olive oil this year, so expect prices to rise higher than they already have.

It's not going to get better. In fact, according to ReliefWeb International, within the next few decades it's predicted that 129 countries will experience drought exposure mainly due to climate change alone, with Mediterranean and Atlantic European countries being affected the most. Meanwhile, our close neighbor California's fire season starts earlier and lasts longer each year. Really makes you appreciate the water features in all of our parks, doesn't it?

Get rid of your lawn
Lawns are a waste of water. They look nice, sure, but most of that sod soaking up sun in suburbia is disrupting the local ecosystem drastically. They're also a pain in the ass to maintain and constantly need trimming and maintenance to stay pristine. For many of us apartment dwellers, this isn't a problem, but a few of you out there will find this rings true.

What can you have instead of a grass lawn? I'm so glad you asked! Try these:

  • PNW native wildflowers
  • Locally sourced moss
  • Clovers
  • A vegetable garden
  • Creeping thyme

    All of these options are more sustainable and more beneficial to you and yours in the long run When done correctly, they're also more inviting and, in my opinion, more beautiful than your average Kentucky Blue or Bermuda grass plugs. Creeping thyme smells amazing on a summer evening, to boot.

    Fight apathy
    The catalyst for this op-ed was a sponsored press release regarding that hummus shortage I mentioned earlier. The gist of it was, "Hey, there's a famine going on, so here's how to make your own hummus at home!"

    The laughable and frankly tone-deaf premise of that email has become an increasingly common theme in my inbox as of late. We seem to be fighting to keep our eyes closed in the face of an everchanging world that doesn't suit our idea of a perfect future. Why acknowledge that the world isn't going to remain comfortable if that brings us discomfort?

    Truth can be painful, but it is necessary to recognize when we're in trouble. Ignoring the obvious as too political or too uncomfortable or too overwhelming to care about is illogical. When the fire alarm goes off in your home, you do something about it. You don't wait patiently for someone else to take care of it.

    The alarm has been ringing for decades and it's time to pay attention. Stop, drop, and roll won't cover it anymore.

    Dismantle megacorporations
    100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world's CO2 emissions, and they're not slowing down. Look, it's convenient to have your orders arrive at your doorstep in two or three days, but our unchecked consumerism is part of the reason it's gotten so damn hot.

    Factories pumping out chemicals to mass produce products that are wrapped in a non-recyclable plastic or Styrofoam and shipped across the country at breakneck speed may seem like an easy, convenient way of going about our day-to-day lives. I'm guilty of it. We all are. But the emissions from that type of convenience economy are slowly burning us alive.

    You don't have to be Captain Planet to notice it's hotter in parts of the city with more cars and delivery trucks. Apply that observation to a global scale.

    Throw in some human rights violations and regular space flights that emit more CO2 in 11 minutes than the average family van does in a year, and I'd say you've got a pretty solid case against keeping some of the biggest companies in the world.

    Stay in the know
    Knowledge is power. The adage is treated as cliché, but it remains relevant for a reason. Staying abreast of the climate crisis is a way to fight it. Here are some resources and organizations you can turn to for news, volunteer opportunities, and ways to make your life more climate-manageable.

  • Beacon Hill Food Forest
  • The Poor Prole's Almanac Podcast
  • National Park Foundation

    This list doesn't even scratch the surface, but it's a start. It'd be uncouth to say it's just the tip of the iceberg, but there you have it. Don't forget to recycle this newspaper when you're done with it. Stay cool out there. Be thankful for the shade. Climate action starts with you.