After Hurricane Isaac, flooding victims are too hot

September 5, 2012 | 2:30 pm | , Science and Solutions Director

Source: 2012 U.S. Air Force

Late August and early September can be miserably hot in south Louisiana. When I lived in Lafayette, my neighborhood would quiet down midday as folks escaped to air-conditioned houses, stores and offices. For Hurricane Isaac victims, though, there is no escape. Nearly a week after the storm, tens of thousands of homes are still without power — especially in the most flooded areas south of New Orleans.

And Louisiana isn’t getting any cooler as carbon pollution warms the planet. By one estimate, New Orleans could see ten times more extreme heat days by the end of the century. At the same time, life-saving air conditioning could get harder to come by. It’s not just storms like Isaac that threaten energy production. Drought, extreme heat, and even sea level rise — combined with higher demand — also will disrupt our electricity supply.

Extreme heat is already one of the top weather-related killers in the U.S. It’s time to realize that air conditioning alone can’t keep us safe from the hotter days brought by climate change.