Arizona is feeling the heat, and not just in the political sense. According to Michelle Litwin, Phoenix’s heat response program manager, “Phoenix has always been hot,” but the severity of the heat has escalated to a level that she calls “Arizona’s natural disaster.”
Taking a cue from Carlo Buontempo, director of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, who warned earlier this month that the world is “walking into uncharted territory,” it’s clear we’re facing a dramatic shift in our climate like we’ve never seen before.
But amid this escalating heatwave, there’s an unlikely figure rising to the call for action: U.S. Senator Mark Kelly. Representing Arizona’s burning hot front lines, this former NASA astronaut isn’t just armed with political acumen. He’s leveraging his unique, out-of-this-world perspective to drive home the urgency of the climate crisis.
During a recent interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Kelly spoke about his experiences in space. “When I went into space four times, I could see how thin the atmosphere is over this planet. It’s as thin as a contact lens on an eyeball,” he revealed. These firsthand insights fuel his insistence that “we have got to do a better job taking care of it.”
He continued to express his concerns for his constituents, emphasizing the current heatwave in Arizona. In particular, he spotlighted the dangers it poses to vulnerable groups such as the elderly and homeless.
As we’re facing the potential for over 100 new temperature records across the West and South, it’s clear that the heat is on. Kelly’s response? It’s time for action. He claimed, “I have not seen in my time in the Senate many folks that deny that the climate is changing. That was a thing of the past. Now is: What do we do about it?”
In response to this, he proudly pointed to the Inflation Reduction Act as a significant first step toward reducing carbon emissions. However, Kelly is clear-eyed about the magnitude of the challenge and admits, “We obviously have to do more.”
His message is straightforward: our planet’s “thin” defense is in jeopardy, and the only way to mitigate this impending disaster is through decisive action. As our temperatures and sea levels continue to rise, so must our commitment to combating climate change. In this fight, every bit of effort counts. Whether you’re a senator, an astronaut, or just an engaged citizen, it’s clear we all need to turn up the heat on climate action.