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Fiery attitudes in DC turn hearts cold


While temperatures are rising in Phoenix these days due to Urban Heat Islands, Washington, D.C. seems to have almost reached its atmospheric boiling point.

The Urban Heat Island effect — a phenomenon in large cities where the day heat is absorbed by the buildings and the surface materials — continues to rise at an alarming rate in our Phoenix desert. Our cooling bills are now at least $150 higher than fifty years ago, said Harvey Bryan, an ASU architecture professor, in an NPR radio interview on March 8.

Whether this steady rise of surface temperature can be decreased is yet to be determined. But Phoenix isn’t the only urban area threatened by this never-ceasing temperature increase.

Things are heating up at an incredible pace in Washington, D.C., as well. Fiery partisan attitudes are giving no one any respite. Fifty years ago, politicians and lobbyists could often set aside their hard feelings once outside of the congressional chambers — a much different atmosphere than the contentious manners of today.

The U.S. Capitol’s overheated atmosphere seems to be the result of the blistering fiscal situation and the blazing partisanship of current politicos.

According to David Wessel in the March 4 edition of The Wall Street Journal, today in Washington, “the deficits projected are bigger than ever, baby boomers are beginning to retire, health-care costs keep rising and, surely, we’re closer to the day when Asian governments grow reluctant to lend ever-greater sums to the U.S. Treasury at low interest rates.”

By the looks of all the gauges, we are headed for trouble. Options have already been presented on how to face the dual threat of outward explosion and internal combustion. The “what to do” and “how to do it” decisions are now up to our federal representatives — they’ve got to work it out between themselves.

While rounding up votes may be as hard as trying to keep frogs in a wheelbarrow, bipartisanship should still be the aim — not because it looks better in the media or to the American people — but because it is better.

Bipartisanship is not the reciprocal back scratching so often seen in legislative chambers, state and federal. Bipartisanship is coming to the table with a burning passion, not for one’s own aggrandizement, but for the common good.

Sadly, what’s happening in our capitol is that politicians’ attitudes have gotten so fired up that regard for fellow human beings (including fellow politicians) has turned cold.

The rising temperatures and higher air conditioning bills caused by the Urban Heat Island effect here in Phoenix will be a constant reminder for us this spring and summer — reminding us that if Washington, D.C.’s atmosphere doesn’t find some kind of bipartisan cooling effect, we will be the ones feeling the fiscal heat on our pocketbooks.

Reach Catherine at catherine.e.smith@asu.edu


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