They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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Enough With The Complaining Of The Heat Already

It's Summer

At least in the Northern Hemisphere, which covers most of the land mass of this particular planet. And in the summer it gets warm.

The Sky Is Burning! The Sky Is Burning!

But when did we get to be such wimps? Whether it's the heightened awareness of global warming or the overhype of the local and national weather people, everything has to be played as more extreme than ever.

Yes. There are places in the U.S. which are seeing excessive heat. Yes. There are places in the U.S. which are seeing excessive heat and humidity, which only adds to the misery. I'm not talking about legitimate discussions of triple-digit temperatures, like 119degF in some area near Los Angeles yesterday. Or wildfires raging in drought ravaged areas that really don't need more high heat.

Although it is merely a freak of the Fahrenheit temperature scale, 100degF is a rather hot temperature. But I've lived in 100 degree heat before. I had the surreal experience of reading Frank Herbert's Dune for the first time in my stifling bedroom at 3am in the early 1970s, too involved in the story and too hot to sleep because it was still over 100 degrees with what the local newsguy said in the morning was "103% humidity, with 3% leftover from the day before."

Even in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton MI used to have a contest for when the first 100 degree day of the summer would occur -- this in a clime famous for 200-300 inches of snowfall every winter. A couple of years ago it was 100 degrees down here in West Michigan and I created a "100 degrees" wallpaper for the computer -- I think I've only trotted it out one other time since 30 July 1999.

And it hasn't been even 100 degrees here in West Michigan during this heat wave.

Oh But Wait

Not to worry. The same people who make every weather system The Worst Storm Evah! are happy to overhype heat index, just as they flog wind chill in the wintertime to try to make conditions sound more miserable.

Yeah, yeah, heat index has been around for a long time. But I don't recall seeing EVERY news and weather source hyping it as they've done this past month. Yesterday it was all over the place that Grand Rapids was forecast to have a Heat Index of 109 Degrees.

Burn Those Kilowatts

I was a teenager before we had a window air conditioner in White Plains NY -- never had one in Medina NY. I don't even remember when the first car my parents had came with AC. Was it the 1972 Malibu Chevelle? Or their 1981 Cavalier? Certainly my 1979 Chevy Suburban came with air.

We never had AC for the house in the U.P. or the first duplex we rented in Allendale MI. Our new house -- now more than a dozen years old (grin) -- didn't have AC. We added a compact Sears window unit in the bedroom, perhaps 6000 BTU capacity, some years ago. And around 2003, I experimented with leaving the bedroom door open to let that small AC unit spread some "coolth" throughout the upstairs. With some fans, it was definitely cooler and drier most days.

This particular heat wave has had high humidity levels and warm nights -- can't really cool off the house if it's still 84degF at midnight and humid as all get out -- which has put us in a position of steadily losing ground.

Elsewhere they are beginning to complain that the excessive number of McMansions, with extraordinary extra square footage and central air conditioning, is driving some of the record electricity usages in the U.S. And with an aging electrical infrastructure and not even desire or incentives for the utilities to always modernize some of the systems, the Chicken Littles are out there warning about rolling blackouts and heat deaths, etc. Or at least it seems as if the news media is hoping like mad to have a big human die off in a U.S. city. Why there's been no real disasters since KatrinaRita last year...

Bottom Line It
Yes -- it has been hot here. But it's not the hottest I've ever lived through. Whether by accident of weather patterns or proximity to Lake Michigan, we've escaped the worst of the heat that large sections of the rest of the country have had, so I feel guilty complaining that it's hot.

But... the university is being cheap and shuts down the AC in the buildings early in the afternoon, so I'm sweltering in my office as I type. And we weren't comfortable sleeping last night, even with the churning little window AC. And I am personally built for -10degF if one gets right down to it -- I like Fall and "jacket weather" a great deal.

So I'm not making fun of global warming or the dangerous conditions elsewhere, merely being concerned that we not make mountains out of the local molehills, lest we be really screwed if/when it REALLY gets hot here.

When everyone goes around screaming how hot it is -- amazingly, one feels the heat...

Dr. Phil
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