Coal pollution may have felled Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, at the age of 92. The aged giant of the Senate had been in declining health for years, but died last week after suffering from “symptoms of heat exhaustion” during Washington’s record heat wave:
Mr. Byrd, a 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital late last week with symptoms of heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as temperatures in the Washington area approached 100 degrees.
The record mid-Atlantic heat wave is part of the global boiling enveloping the planet, caused by greenhouse gases from coal and oil pollution. The increasingly deadly heat waves fueled by man-made global warming are a real threat to the health of Americans, especially the vulnerable elderly. The record heat in June — continuing to make 2010 the hottest year on record across the globe — has been identified as the killer at least 18 Americans across the nation:
June 2: PENNSYLVANIA A 50-year-old man wearing a heavy three-piece wool suit was found dead on a South Philadelphia street. At 88 degrees, the high temperature was 15 degrees above normal.
June 3: PENNSYLVANIA A 77-year-old man died in in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Wynnefield. At 89 degrees, the high temperatures was 15 degrees above normal.
June 21: TENNESSEE 70-year-old Robert Murry was killed in his Memphis home in the middle of an ongoing 23-day 90-plus heat wave.
June 23: TENNESSEE An “88-year old man was found dead in his North Memphis home.” The “high temperature was 95 degrees with a heat index over 100 degrees,” part of an ongoing 23-day 90-plus heat wave.
June 24: ARKANSAS “State health officials have recorded Arkansas’ first heat death of the year,” but “the state Health Department did not release details about the victim in an announcement today, citing patient confidentiality.” Little Rock suffered this month from 27 days of 90+ plus weather, more than twice the average.
June 25: TEXAS Rose Staubus, 73, was found dead in her Richardson, TX home, of high blood pressure and hyperthermia. She died on the 15th consecutive day of a 90-plus heat wave. Richardson, which normally has four days of 90-plus weather in June, had 26. Another Dallas-area resident was declared dead earlier in the month from heat exposure.
June 26: MARYLAND “Three heat-related deaths were reported in Maryland this week, as 90-degree temperatures ruled in the Washington region, and a 100-degree reading on Thursday broke a record that had stood for 116 years. Each of the people who died in Maryland was 65 or older and all had underlying health conditions, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. One of the three died in Montgomery County, and the other two were Baltimore County residents.”
PENNSYLVANIA A “46-year-old woman was found dead in a first floor bedroom at a home” in Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane neighborhood. The high temperature of 96 was 13 degrees above normal.
PENNSYLVANIA An “88-year-old man was found dead in a first floor bedroom of a house in Germantown,” outside of Philadelphia.
June 29: MARYLAND Two senior citizens in Maryland, one in Cecil County and one in Prince George’s County, died of hyperthermia “as the mercury climbed past 90 degrees for the 11th consecutive day and the mark for the hottest June on record was tied.” The average high temperature in the region is seven degrees cooler.
If greenhouse gas pollution is not sharply reduced, most of the United States will bake under 90-plus heat waves that last the entire summer, either killing thousands more people or overloading our decrepit fossil-powered electricial network as those who can afford air conditioners use them.