Our electric from American Electric Power came back on Thursday (July 5th) about 8 p.m. So we and our neighbors were about six days without power. We have been learned from the media that hundreds of thousands of households in AEP’s region of responsibility were without power following the big storm. The power outage coincided with a record-breaking heat wave that covered the mid-west.

Needless to say, we felt great relief when the air-conditioners and lights came back on. This catastrophic event, alas, is not the last of such severe weather events.

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies monitors global surface temperatures on a continuing basis. In a report made available in January of this year, Goddard Institute scientists found that the year 2011 was the ninth hottest year on record, that is, since 1880. Nine of the ten hottest years have occurred since the year 2000. According to an article by Douglas Main for the Christian Science Monitor (July 3), "the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the contiguous United States." Temperatures in June and July are surely going to buttress this warming trend.

Global temperatures, and temperatures across the globe, are significantly linked to the increasing carbon dioxide being emitted by human activities into the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, is produced principally by the burning of fossil fuels, like the coal that provides us with electricity. Generally, it works like this: greater fossil-fuel-based energy usage produces more carbon dioxide, which heightens the greenhouse effects, and this in turn leads to higher temperatures. Severe weather events like the one we have just experience are among the many consequences of this is self-reinforcing pattern.

Our (temporary) relief from the heat made possible by the hard work of AEP employees and contractors is bound to be short-lived. Bill McKibben is the author of the book Eaarth. The title is not a spelling error but rather a new name for a planet that has already been transformed by human industrial and agricultural systems – and increasing population. Climate scientist James Hansen captures what is likely to be in store for future generations in his 2009 book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.

What do we do? Neither Romney/Republicans nor Obama/Democrats offer meaningful solutions. Forget about the Green Party and other third parties. I'll still vote for Obama and the Democrats who are not as fully in the pockets of the rich and corporations as Romney and the Republicans and who are less likely to be deluded by the right-wing propaganda that global warming is a hoax, or not that serious, or will be solved by the "free market" when the distant time for renewables is at hand.

Additionally, perhaps rearguard efforts in our communities and regions may help politically to influence and change our fossil-fuel based energy system. Perhaps activists and their organizations will come to serve as models for others to follow. There is certainly the “hope” that local environmental, peace, and social justice struggles here and elsewhere may someday come together as a national (and international) political force capable of creating a society that is sustainable and equitable for future generations, with temperatures that do not fry us or destroy the conditions for life as we have known them.