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Letter to the Editor: In Eastern North Carolina summers, it really is the humidity

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Friday, August 11, 2017

When we are in the grip of a heat wave of the sort we experienced earlier this summer, the subject of global warming becomes more pronounced.

“Heat wave” is a real misnomer for this type of weather. Wave implies movement, it implies action. When heat settles in, there is no movement, no action. It’s more like a heat dome. That’s it. A dome of hot air settles over us.

No matter. It’s hot. But it’s summertime. It’s the summer after all. And it’s the South. We expect it to be hot.

It’s not the heat, though, it is the humidity.

That’s what we say, and it’s true. Here in Eastern North Carolina, we are “blessed” with a humid climate.

The ambient air temperature means relatively little. For example, on one recent day the temperature gauge read 87 degrees - not too terribly bad out.

Wrong! The heat index outside was 105 degrees. This figure is derived by adding in the humidity. By doing so on the day in question, a figure of 105 degrees was rendered, which meant that it felt like 105 degrees outside. Now that’s hot.

Such high heat index readings are dangerous. People who work outside are most prone to heat strokes or similar afflictions.

So is it manmade global warming that’s causing the hot summer?

On this front, the recent news appears to contradict itself. Just recently, a huge ice formation broke away from Antarctica. It was the size of Delaware. That supports the idea of global warming.

Yet, off the coast of North Carolina a huge island, really a sand bar, has popped out of the sea. That’s not supposed to happen. The island, called Shelley Island by some, is a mile long. The theory behind manmade global warming suggests that the sea will encroach on land as the ocean levels rise.

Instead, off our coast at least, the opposite is occurring.

Now no one believes this new island will remain an island forever. A tropical storm or a nor’easter will cause the sands to shift. Shelley Island will disappear eventually. That type of activity occurs at regular intervals, the shifting of sand off North Carolina’s coast. It’s funny, you seldom hear much talk of global warming in the winter months.

Last winter was mild, but a mild winter is mostly viewed as a blessing and not a curse. A mild winter means lower heating bills. It means less ice and snow. Driving, just getting around, is easier without the presence of ice and snow.

Perhaps one reason the heat is a hot topic of discussion is due to the fact that we’ve become slaves to air conditioning.

Everywhere and everything is air conditioned these days. Even these huge retail stores are kept comfortably cool inside.

Amazing.

Our cars are all air conditioned. We’ve become slaves to the a/c. Maybe our bodies have become so acclimated to the cool indoor air, we don’t tolerate the heat as well.

ROBERT PEELE

Rocky Mount

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