It’s the middle of July and  July, 2013, looks and feels like last July and the July before that. One difficult summer  after another.    

    In the Northeast, we’re experiencing a lot of heat and humidity. Hospital emergency rooms and clinics  are crowded with people who are suffering through the hot weather. Oklahoma has its tornadoes and Arizona has its wildfires. On the coast of New England, we’re waiting for the height of hurricane season.      

    President Obama delivered a nice speech, a few weeks ago, about climate change. Some environmentalists liked the speech, and some environmentalists were indifferent, but, at this point, the Obama speech is  already part of history. The President of the United States said a few words and it was big news for several days. If senior citizens die from the effects of extreme heat, or if  children  suffer because of increased levels of air pollution, or if the drought continues in five rural states, that’s not “news,”  as far as most Americans concerned. This  is how we live during an era of climate change.

    In this situation, keep asking the question, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?”

    Recently, a billionaire  announced that he  wants to build a  land-based transportation system that will move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes. Some environmentalists have already announced that this is “big news.” So, there’s lots of excitement for the moment, although I don’t know what to do with the announcement. Maybe, in some way, the proposed  transportation system will reduce the use of fossil fuel, and, in some way, maybe the reduction of fossil fuel use will reduce the climate change problem. Maybe. Might happen. Who knows?

    As you move into difficult days,  keep asking, “What can the Sierra Club do that will be helpful?”

    This summer, the Sierra Club’s Cape Cod and Islands Group is trying to expand some of its emergency services programs. Our group’s resources are very limited. Still, we’ve been involved in a few events since early June and we have more activities scheduled for the weeks ahead.

    JUNE 14th: We provided some volunteers and Sierra Club literature for a health and safety fair at Falmouth Hospital.

    FOURTH OF JULY: Sierra Club members assisted with a health and safety display at a Native American pow wow on Cape Cod. The Wampanoag chief thanked us for “helping the elders.”

    AUGUST 17th: We’ll be working with community and religious groups  to produce an “environmental health and safety fair” on Cape Cod. As part of this event, there will be a Red Cross blood drive. Lots of Sierra Club literature will be distributed about climate change, chemicals of emerging concern, population issues, etc. Emergency preparedness and access issues will receive much attention.

    Some other activities are scheduled. It’s not a big effort but we try to be helpful  in the here and now.

    I’ve started CERT training. I helped with Cape Cod’s emergency shelters during the big storm in February. Some additional training will be useful. Many Sierra Club leaders already have first aid training and many know how to manage camps. Still, it’s good to be in contact with emergency services teams. The emergency services people like to do background checks, certification, etc., while preparing for future difficulties.

    (submitted by Bob Murphy, chair, Cape Cod and Islands Group, Sierra Club)