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Hot town – summer in the city

By Michael R. Shannon
web posted August 1, 2011

I cheated death one recent Saturday. I went outside to work in the yard. No doubt, in light of the recent crippling heat wave smothering the East Coast, you think my decision foolhardy.

Here we had Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Incompetano hovering over the DC area in her helicopter — Grope One — burning up the bullhorn batteries as she ordered people to have their ID ready and move into nearby shade.

There was the heart–rending video of the long lines of women and children waiting patiently to be admitted into the cool, subterranean interior of Greenbrier, VA's Cold War–era Congressional missile shelter after it was opened to the public.

And who could forget coverage of PEPCO executives furtively stopping at 7/11 to hire a coyote to smuggle them across the Mexican border — one step ahead of an enraged customer base that was not only without power and air–conditioning, but also left without shade after roving bands of PEPCO's pruning trucks had scalped their trees.

For a while I was so caught up in the fear of the sun god's wrath that when I spotted a foursome on the golf course it was all I could do to not to slam on the brakes and burst out of the car shouting, "Save yourselves!"

So of course I fully expected to be vaporized like a mosquito in a Bug Zapper the minute I set foot out the door. But instead of becoming a particulate cloud that contributes to "Global Warming!" I found myself hot, sweaty and alive just like I've been in every other summer during my lifetime.

Government officials and TV hairdos like to portray heat hysteria warnings as a public service to keep people "safe." But it's actually just another step down the road to the complete infantilization of America by a self–appointed group of we–know­–best busybodies who don't think the average American has enough sense to come in out of the sun.

There was less concern shown over the fate of the intrepid Fukushima nuclear plant workers exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation than there was over Yankees wandering out into the sunshine.

Athletes sometimes enter a hyperbaric chamber that creates a pressurized environment that exposes them to increased concentrations of oxygen. The theory is more oxygen promotes healing and recovery.

We are forced to live in a hyperbolic chamber exposed to exaggerated high–pressure warnings, alarms and rules for living. The theory being more exposure to hysteria promotes a citizenry that no longer relies on its own wits and instead is afraid to make a move without consulting some government "expert" for guidance.

As a result the Manassas Battlefield Park canceled all outdoor activities during one afternoon of the 150th anniversary celebration, because the summer became hot. When the real hazard for tourists was sprains and broken bones from stumbling over drifts of bottled water cluttering the landscape after we were carpet–bombed by Air H2O.

My son's undefeated Rugby team missed three games when opponents cancelled after deciding they would rather be safe than sweaty. [I suppose this means the sport's supporters are going to have to order longer bumper stickers since the game's motto has evidently changed from "Give Blood. Play Rugby." to "Give Blood. Play Rugby. (But only at night.)"]

Regular readers know I hold moral equivalency in low esteem, but I think we could use a bit of mortuary equivalence when worrying about summer heat. There are an average of 268 accidental deaths per day in the US. Heat is often described as "the number one weather–related killer in the United States," yet the highest yearly recorded total of heat–related deaths from 2001 to 2010 was only 138, less than half of the average daily total from accidental death.

Let me go on record as fully supporting the concept that summer is hot. No former resident of West Texas and Houston will dispute that. But summer has always been hot and our "heat wave" was no big deal. The serious 1980 heat wave (before the invention of "Global Warming") caused more than 1,250 deaths and DFW–area temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for over 30 consecutive days, but North Texas did not close up shop.

Certainly if you are obese, unfit or elderly (or even two out of three!) exposure to the summer's heat can pose a problem, just like exposure to the winter's cold can make life difficult.

But it's not Ovenmageddon.

If a mere one week of warm weather can throw us into a panic I wonder how this pampered, fearful generation is going to respond when it meets a real crisis? ESR

Michael R. Shannon is a public relations, advertising and political consultant with experience around the globe. He is also a popular speaker and can be reached at michael–shannon@comcast.net.

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