Important Announcements

Meetings are currently held on the 4th Tuesday, 6pm, at the South Waco Library, 2737 S. 18th St., Waco, TX 76706. Meetings occur most months, but each should be confirmed by an announcement on this website This website can now be reached entering the following URL: Free "climate crisis is here" yard signs may be obtained by emailing To join our email list and be informed of meetings, events, and campaigns, please email Alan at Scroll down to "Sixth Annual Climate Crisis Art Show Winners."


Column in the Waco Tribune-Herald, August 6, 2023

The climate crisis is defined by an abundance of weather extremes, and these have been on full display this summer of 2023.  The Northern Hemisphere has been assaulted by heat waves, floods, and wildfires.  July was the hottest month in recorded history, with an incredible 80% of humanity (6.5 billion people) suffocating in the heat.  The Southern Hemisphere was also impacted, with an amazing 102F in Chile—during winter.  This column will focus on climate crisis heat as it relates to Waco and Central Texas. 

Word Weather Attribution (WWA). Until about five years ago, the conventional wisdom stated that climate change was a factor in unusual weather, but could not be considered the cause  of individual events.  When Friederike Otto and colleagues formed World Weather Attribution, this wisdom began to change, and in 2023 we can state that the climate crisis causes extreme weather events.  In June and July of 2023,  North America (including Waco), Europe and China experienced severe heat waves, marked by increased hospitalizations and death from heat illness, power demand spikes, water shortages, and crop damage.  WWA, using peer-reviewed methodology, concluded that “maximum heat like in July 2023 would have been virtually impossible to occur in the US/Mexico region and Southern Europe if humans had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels.”  Thus, the heat waves observed this summer in North America  have been caused by global warming.  But can we attribute the climate change-induced heat specifically in Waco?

Climate Shift Index (CSI).  This index, a peer-reviewed tool developed by scientists at, helps answer this question.  The index scale extends from -5 (5 times less likely due to climate change) to +5 (5 times more likely due to climate change) for any point on the globe, for any date.  The CSI map reveals that over the last eleven days, for example, the high temperatures seen in Waco have been 5 times more likely with the presence of climate change than without, or are “exceptional events driven by climate change.” Any doubt about the role of the climate crisis in Waco’s heat wave has scientifically been removed.

Extreme Heat.  The hottest June and July ever recorded globally occurred this year.  As of this writing (Aug. 8), the Waco area has experienced 35 days with high temperature 100F or higher, and 10 days with high temperature 105F or higher, according to data from NOAA.  On July 17, 2023,  a record was set for the highest temperature ever recorded for this date-- 106F.

     In addition to these air temperature records, it is informative to consider the temperature of other parts of our environment.  Measured with a laser infrared thermometer, I found the following in my surroundings:  indoor wood floor 69F, grass in shade 89F, concrete porch in shade 98.4F, grass in sunlight 111F, concrete curb 133F, and asphalt street 147F.   Thus, our solid surroundings are often hotter than the air we breathe. 

Heat-related Illness (HRI).  Included in this category are sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular and pulmonary complications,

 renal failure, electrolyte imbalance, kidney stones, negative impacts on fetal health, and preterm birth. The “ Heat Tracker” map from the CDC shows that our region of Texas/New Mexico/Louisiana is in 1st or 2nd  place for the most numerous Emergency Department visits for heat-related illness in the U.S. during June, July, and August, up to 1 of every 100 visits.  Further, the Heat Vulnerability Index of McLennan County ranges from 0.211  to 0.981 (index maximum 1.0),  indicating many citizens of the county are at very high risk of HRI.

Heat Mortality.  Surprisingly, more people die from heat-related illness than any other natural disaster.  Some of the deadliest heatwaves on record include Europe (2003), 30,000 deaths; Russia (2010), 56,000 deaths;  India/Pakistan (2015), 2,600 deaths; and Europe (2022) 61,000 deaths.  To my knowledge, heat-related deaths are not tabulated by the Waco Health District.  However, the local  danger of extreme heat for all ages is illustrated by the tragic death of 23-year-old Jose Cruz Rodriguez in Waco in 2021.  Mr. Cruz died of a heat stroke during his UPS delivery route, according to OSHA,  in a story that gained international notoriety. 

Future Heat.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has projected that if the world continues its current emissions trajectory, by midcentury Waco will experience an average of 95 days per year with heat index over 100F, and 63 days with heat index over 105F.  How many tourists will walk the Magnolia grounds in these conditions? In addition, the FEMA National Risk Index scores U.S. counties for 18 natural hazards.  For heat waves, McLennan County is at “relatively high risk,” with an expected annual loss of $2.3 million.

Priorities.  In our setting of a roasting city on course for even more dangerous temperatures, we can contribute solutions by driving electric vehicles, installing rooftop solar,  eating less meat, and voting only for candidates  committed to robust climate action.  As a voting guide, it is critical to remember that every Democrat and not a single Republican voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, the most powerful bill to fight the climate crisis ever signed into law.  And without a livable planet, other issues will become moot.



Alan D. Northcutt

August 8, 2023


Alan D. Northcutt is a retired Waco physician and Director of the grassroots climate action and education group, Waco  Friends of the Climate.  For free “Climate Crisis is Here” yard signs, email