How climate change has affected the heartland – in just one month

In late June I left Kansas City by car on my annual jaunt to New York and to my native New Jersey. The day I left it was 97 degrees, with hotter weather forecast for the next several days following. 

It had been weeks since we had had any appreciable rain, and the landscape reflected it. All across northern Missouri, central Illinois and Indiana the lawns were withered, and the corn seemed to be hanging on for dear life. 

Worse, on day two of the trip, a brown haze, smellable and all but tangible, obscured my vision. As I drove across Ohio, I felt as if I were driving into a dystopian future as fast-tracked by Justin Trudeau and his Royal Canadian mountebanks.

For the month I was gone, I shut out news from Kansas City, but it was hard not to hear rumbles about searing heat and global warming, coming not just from friends but from Kansas City, Missouri’s, City Hall. 

Here is what the city experts tell us:

“In the Kansas City area, we are experiencing climate change through increased temperatures, increased periods of drought, and more frequent flooding. These changes in our regional climate lead to issues for people, the environment, and the economy.”

A month to the day after I arrived in New York, I headed back to Kansas City to see the damage for myself. As far as possible, I avoid the interstates. On this trip, in fact, I drove not a mile on I-70 or I-80. 

Off the interstates, real life comes closer to the road. You can see that life and sense its rhythms. U.S. Highway 30 runs 250 miles across Ohio, divided all the way, with nary a city to dissect or circumvent. Highway 36 does the same for Missouri.

I arrived late to West Lafayette, Indiana, where I stop for sentimental reasons. I left early the next morning on Indiana State Road 25 through a vividly green landscape, every inch covered with flourishing corn and soybeans.

The drought, such as it was, had ignored the doomsayers and abated after a couple weeks. Rain had returned. It inevitably does. The relative handful of people who manage these farms, I reflected, do more meaningful work than an army of climate scientists.

My second-day lunch destination was the Becky Thatcher Diner in – you guessed it – Hannibal, Missouri. What I like about Hannibal is that the city ignored the COVID hysteria and remained America, even in the spring of 2020. Huck would have been proud.

Northeast Missouri seemed a little dry but that was about to change. Halfway across Missouri I ran headlong into a spectacular squall rumbling across the state. With so little traffic on Highway 36, I could enjoy the distraction.

On the far side of the squall Missouri glistened. The road home rivaled the road to the Emerald City. I don’t recall Western Missouri ever being this green this late.

Checking the temperature for Kansas City in July, I realized the media had once again sold us an apocalypse that wasn’t. On 17 days in July – out of 31, youngsters – the high temperature was below normal. On the coolest of those days, the high was 15 degrees below the normal July high.

On only two days in July did the temperature exceed the normal by more than 10 degrees, and these were both 11 above normal, at 101 degrees each day. Yes, my youthful friends, it gets hot every July. 

What I am about to say may shock the reader – I welcome a fact check – but those two 101-degree days are the first days in the last 11 years in which the Kansas City temperature exceeded 100 degrees.

We may actually be cooling. In 1980, soon after I arrived in Kansas City, we had 22 straight days with temperatures of 100 or above. That summer, I pitched in a Sunday softball league.

On one Sunday, when I took the mound for a 4 p.m. game, it was 109 degrees. I left the next morning for Colorado and got back just in time to take the mound at 4 p.m. the following Sunday. Once again, it was 109 degrees.

Old timers thought us soft for complaining. They remembered the summer of 1934, the hottest year in American history, when Kansas City temperatures hit 111 degrees.

They got no relief in 1936 when the city experienced 53 days above 100, with a high of 113. Worse, people had to seal their windows shut to keep half of Kansas from blowing through in those drought-stricken, dust bowl years.

Air conditioning would have made a huge difference then, but for the great majority of Americans, that reprieve was years down the road.

If the climate alarmists have their way, we might just brown out our way back to those bad-old days.

These bad new days won’t be any hotter than they have been, but without AC they will certainly seem like they are.


Jack Cashill’s book Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities is available in all formats.

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