Hot, Hotter …

When I wrote Threshold, I lived in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson. Later I moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Both places are hot and getting hotter. Too little water or too much water are the respective outcomes for these distinct regions in the United States on the Fourth of July.

When I was writing Threshold, climate change science was rapidly developing but still considered the domain of zealots.

The fact that the Earth is warming is indisputable. The average increase between 2009 to 2018 was 1.34 degrees Fahrenheit. While that may seem small this is a complex figure calculated from average temperatures across the planet, from very cold to very hot. Total surface area of the Earth is billions of square meters. For the average temperature to rise takes a huge amount of energy.

Humans being the complex species that we are, we ignore signs of impending problems when we feel unable to do anything about it. We stick our heads in the sand. That response spells trouble for us.

Read a review about Threshold, then pick up a copy. Its worth the study of how various people react and respond. The book is not a dystopia but a realistic look at how I believe the near future might unfold based on my experience.

Threshold - a Novel about Climate Change in the Southwest
Novel about Climate Change in Tucson and the Southwest


Living on the Gulf Coast I am painfully aware of what its like when the grid goes down. Moist, hot coastal air enveloped residents in Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan. In some areas of the seaside city, residents were without power for two weeks. Life came to a halt: no business could be conducted, no schools could function, only emergency services were available; finding  potable water and food became residents’ daily preoccupation.

But, what if the power grid in the U.S.A. went down? Security would be nonexistent, vulnerable people would perish from lack of cool or heat depending on the season. Markets would be down and silent. No trade could take place. The lifeblood of capitalism would be cut off.

How vulnerable is our grid? An article in the Wall Street Journal, How America Could Go Dark, reviews how substations on the grid are wide open to sabotage:

The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.

In my novel Threshold, a plot to disable the grid where hydropower is generated along the Colorado River system is discovered. It is designed to deliver a double whammy: loss of power and water. In the Southwest, that could be devastating.

The point is this: life percolates along in the face of climate change and other long-term security problems as long as citizens can turn on their lights and get water from a faucet. We are distracted by what is immediately before us : terrorism and violence and a failed political process that obfuscates the truth. Meantime, we are not paying attention to the trumpets sounding for our action.

Solutions will come at all levels of society. For example, the millions of dollars we need to secure our grid will require governments and business collaborations to make it happen. On the community level, citizens can bring pressure on officials for these reforms, and they can plan on municipal and neighborhood levels to protect people in the event of a grid failure or compromised water supply. See what Tucson is doing to promote neighborhood organizing for the latter.