What the Temp????

What the Temp????

Anika Jaswal

What if I told you that COVID-19-induced deaths, natural disasters, brain-eating amoebas, riots, protests, political ugliness, social divisiveness, deadly ticks, and killer-mosquitoes – may all be linked to one word – temperature. A basic, rudimentary, fundamental diagnostic instrument has suddenly become a crucial symptom indicator faceted, nobody would have never fathomed!  Not only is temperature literally an important number, but it is also a pretty accurate marker for mood and mentality.

98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is stipulated as average human temperature, devised by a German physician in the 1800s. However, many scientists are challenging this conclusion, saying that current research shows this benchmark to be higher since human beings are cooling off. Really? The COVID-19 screening protocol says that a temperature 100.4 F or higher is considered feverish. What about folks with temperatures between 98.6 F and 100.4 F? Why isn’t 98.7 F a fever? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists fever as one of the markers for screening COVID and there’s a dispute over whether temperature is a good marker or not. Some doctors argue that body temperature can vary with age, hormone levels, time of day, activity levels, so the “normal” is not the same for everyone. Clearly, the temperature check has taken up an entirely new life of its own, and with it, a whole new meaning, opening this age-old standard up for debate.

Wildfires – Forest fires burn at extremely high rates, sometimes over 2,000 F. With almost half of the West Coast ablaze, this month shattered previous records, specifically is California, as over two million acres of forest have been burned (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection). High temperatures and strong winds have made the situation even worse, with a heat wave baking Southern California and temperatures reaching an all-time-high in Death Valley at 130 degrees on Labor Day weekend.The fires can be mainly attributed to two things: climate change and arson. While extreme heat has dried vegetation, creating a trigger for the fires, every fire must have an ignitor. Sometimes this ignitor is nature, however more often than not, humans are responsible. Some common human ignitors include downed power lines, smoke-generated fireworks and even as small of an item as a cigarette. As climate change researchers continue to research our rapidly changing Earth, reports have been released about the Earth’s temperature increasing each year- so much so that Alaska has been reporting record-breaking heat. 

BLM – After the brutal murders of George Floyd, Elijah McClain, and Breonna Taylor, the Summer of 2020 saw sweltering heat in many parts of the world. Concurrently, protests for racial justice and social reform have become hotter than ever. Amidst the rising temps, Black rights activists continue to march through streets and towns, demanding justice and protesting the systemic racism engraved in schooling systems, housing, job opportunities, healthcare, and law enforcement. As the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to gain more traction since its birth in 2013, it has recently focused shedding light to the racial injustices in law enforcement. Back in 1982, Willie Simmons- a Black man from Alabama was sentenced to a life without parole for stealing nine dollars. Brock Turner- a white student from Stanford who was convicted of felony sexual assault and only served a six month jail time. Sentence disparities of black and white cases similar to Simmons and Turners continue to rise to the surface through social media and have brought questions of American hypocrisy to the forefront. Many athletes have voiced their opinions on the matter as well. 

2020 USA Elections  – Will there be temperature checks before entering the voting centers? Will people be disqualified if they have a high temperature that day? One thing is for sure, as we are getting a handle on rising temperatures in other facets, political temperature is creeping up. After the first presidential debate this past Monday, temperatures and tensions seem to have risen above the norm, with BBC calling the presidential debate equivalent to a “food fight”. Both parties fiercely clashed in what seems to be one of the most disorderly White House debates in years. Before the debate Biden said “the job of a president is to lower the temperature. … the temperature in the country is higher, tensions run stronger, divisions run deeper.” With the presidential debate now slamming media headlines, questions of Trump’s attempts to control temperatures- politically, socially and economically- have come into clear questioning. 

Temperature can be that line between life and death; the pulse and temperature are mirror images of each other. As soon as I mention that I feel feverish, my father always checks my pulse – when your temperature rises, your pulse rises, he explains. This multi-sided relationship clearly seems to transcend not only our bodies but our environment, personal, climatic, political and social. The key then seems to be to control these temps, an active effort to keep them down to sustain a normal pulse. Clearly 2020 will not only be historic for COVID, wildfires, social upheavals, political unrest, but perhaps this year will be a year of realization of the importance to balance this vital sign that we have taken for granted. Three important things for 2020 – temperature, temperature, temperature!!