For most of the summer, I’ve been editing Atlanta Intown from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had the opportunity to come and spend some time here to finish a new poetry collection and catch up on traveling derailed by the pandemic and my treatment for cancer.

In between issues, I’ve had the opportunity to make multiple visits to Detroit, spend a weekend in Toronto, see the wonder of Niagara Falls, marvel at the architecture in Chicago, and come to appreciate the charms of Toledo.

While you’ve been broiling in the Georgia sun, we’ve been in the high 80s here, which is abnormal. The typical high temperature in July is around 82, but we’ve been at or near 90 with some days of hellish humidity.

A smokey haze from the Canadian wildfires settles over Toledo, Ohio on July 22. (Photo by Collin Kelley)

The smoke haze from the Canadian wildfires has blanketed most of the state over the past month. I know Atlanta has gotten some of this, too, but up here we’ve been under air quality emergencies with the haze and smell lingering for days at a time.

For some reason, I thought Michigan didn’t have tornados, but I was wrong. Just a few weeks after my arrival, a tornado touched down and knocked out power in my neighborhood overnight.

While I was visiting Chicago, a flash flood and severe storm interrupted the NASCAR race, swamped the Riverwalk, and filled my shoes with ankle-deep water.

None of this is normal.

The Detroit Free Press recently reported nine of the 15 hottest years on record in metro Detroit have occurred since 2001, according to data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Of the 10 years with the highest total rainfall in Michigan, six have occurred since 2006, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

We’re seeing more and more weather extremes happening around the globe: from days of punishing heat in the American Southwest, to floods in New England, to extreme heat in Europe, and wildfires in Greece.

I’ve been getting regular reports from friends in Atlanta who’ve all said the same thing: you’re so lucky not to be in Atlanta this summer. My friend who has been house-sitting my condo said she’s definitely had to lower the thermostat. I’ve got the high Georgia Power bills to prove it.  

Scientists say the planet has warmed about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century and will grow hotter until humans stop burning coal, oil, and gas. These warmer temperatures are contributing to extreme weather events, including heat and flooding.

Unfortunately, conservative politicians around the world continue to push the use of fossil fuels. In the U.S. there’s an ongoing push for more oil drilling permits and the easing of environmental restrictions.

Georgia, somehow, has managed to become a leader in electric vehicles. Gov. Brian Kemp said he wants the state to be the “electric mobility capital of the world.”

As a result, Georgia is now beating Michigan for new investments from auto manufacturers and suppliers, according to an analysis by the Center for Automotive Research. There’s even a move in Georgia to install more EV charging stations.

And while Georgia is becoming a leader in EV, it’s still failing to adopt policies that will reverse climate change. The money is great and all, but so is paying attention to science.

Earlier this year, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Earth is likely to pass a dangerous temperature threshold within the next decade, pushing the planet past the point of catastrophic warming unless nations take action to move away from fossil fuels.

Let’s hope cooler heads will eventually prevail in politics and business before it’s too late.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.