“Fire Next Time”: Heatwaves, Oil Caps and Earth’s Future

“Fire Next Time”: Heatwaves, Oil Caps and Earth’s Future


“God gave Noah the Rainbow sign, No more water, the Fire Next Time”
— verse from Negro spiritual

I have predicted how the reign of human beings will end. We are going to burn up! Or to invoke my Southern roots, “We gon bwern up!”. The level on the global temperature gauge is turned up to “hell,” exhausting our power grids, converting our sunscreen into cooking oil, and there is no relief in sight. And we have not even reached August, the hottest summer month.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not some religious zealot claiming a prophetic gift. Nor am I masquerading as an environmental scientist. I am a political science professor (and part-time blogger) who observes everything around him, reads the facts, and draws conclusions. The fact is that we have had unseasonably high temperatures in the country, especially within the last 6 months.

Record heatwaves across the country, forest fires that won’t stop, and melting ice in traditionally cold climates indicate to me that we, like the dinosaurs, will have an end that is cataclysmic. Global warming is real, Al Gore proved that. But its getting worse and we are feeling it on our bodies, in our pockets and in our politics.

The increase in heat, as a direct result of global gas emissions, has affected our health, evident by the spiraling respiratory problems and other health related illnesses. We have seen food crops reduced around the globe due to stretches of unseasonably warm weather, pushing up food prices across the board. In fact, developing countries, particularly those with historically unsettled political systems, are more vulnerable than ever before to famine because of environmental challenges due to global warming.

Here in the U.S., with much of the economy in the toilet, families are struggling to buy food and the unemployed are straining food pantries, not just in urban and rural areas, but increasingly in suburban communities. We may be reaching levels of hunger in households in an affluent country like the U.S. that could rival many developing countries.

Now, the U.S. congress has debated the merits of cap and trade, while our voracious appetite for oil is literally killing us. Our oil consumption rivals China, and its on the increase. The U.S. represents less than 10% of the World’s population yet we consume over 30% of global oil production. Further, approximately 30% of our domestic oil production is located in the Gulf region.

So while we think we are looking over BP’s shoulder via ocean cam, holding them “accountable” and holding our moral breath that the new oil cap will stop the millions of gallons of decayed ancient animals (sweet crude) spewing from the Gulf, we are still without a comprehensive energy plan that will turn the tide of this destruction and others like it. And our government keeps throwing out old school ideas like “nuclear power plants” and misnomers like “clean coal” (energy’s equivalent of “diet soda”!) when we know damn well that alternative sources of energy exist, and can be used to save our planet.

It is self destructive that we see and experience our own personal discomfort with this weather and have plenty of evidence that things are getting worse, environmentally, yet still shrug it off as part of life. I agree that we all can do things like reduce our energy consumption, eliminate plastic, recycle and change our lifestyles. This is crucial.

But while we reduce our own carbon footprint, we also need a new energy approach in this country and globally, with the elimination of fossil fuels and other harmful industries that are expediting our own demise. If we do not, I can easily envision a future where another species would study our human skeletons, learning about how we once roamed the earth.


  1. Good One! What we need is some of them old Sistas (grandmothers from back in the day) to warn us about being “bwern up.” But I fear if they warned us, we would intellectually pimp slap them and continue driving our Hippo SUVs with 24 inch spinners, blasting the air conditioner trying to stop from being bwern up, listening to the Welfare Poets critque the world or the song Ball of Confusion: Thats What the World is Today,” saying “thats some deep s— as we’re getting bwern up!