Why Must ‘Extreme’ Heat Waves Be Turned Into National Disasters?

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Why Must ‘Extreme’ Heat Waves Be Turned Into National Disasters?
Why Must ‘Extreme’ Heat Waves Be Turned Into National Disasters?

As summer progresses, the national conversation is turned toward the weather. There seems to be no end to the extreme heat waves hitting the nation. Dramatic stories of heat alerts affecting tens of millions dominate the headlines.

While the media inevitably link the “extreme” heat to climate change, others sensationalize and weaponize the weather to support other agendas.

For example, labor expert Teri Gerstein wrote an article in The New York Times titled “Workers Shouldn’t Have to Risk Their Lives in Heat Waves.” She appeals for the government to get involved in protecting people not only from the weather but also from those who ask others to work in extreme heat.

A National Disaster in the Making

The dramatic note of class struggle is easy to perceive in her report. In 2022 alone, she notes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 43 deaths from heat exposure while working. Last year, a postal worker “died of heat stroke in Dallas,” and at least one farmworker “died after falling ill while working amid extreme heat in Florida.”

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Armed only with this data in her article, she is ready to declare a national emergency requiring government action against negligent employers and unhealthy workplaces.

Adding to the sense of urgency, she reports that climate scientists warn that the situation is reaching a tipping point where Americans can expect more frequent and severe “extreme” heat waves in the future.

Indeed, she claims, it is only going to get worse. The government needs to address the increasingly dangerous conditions before it is too late.

The Need for More Laws and Regulations

Of course, people have to be careful when out in the heat and cold or when lashed by wind and rain. Employers and employees need to be mindful of these conditions when working outside.

However, she notes, such precautions are not part of the law in most parts of the country. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) contains a “general duty clause” requiring safe workplaces, but it does not explicitly address what to do about “extreme heat” when temperatures go above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It Is Very Hot Out There

Putting the climate change and labor law rhetoric aside for a nanosecond, no one denies that it is hot—very hot, even unseasonably hot in some places over long periods. The heat waves affect a large number of people, and many are suffering. Those are the facts.

However, even before climate change appeared, “extreme” heat waves have always existed. Long periods of heat and drought have accompanied humanity throughout history.

Most people can reach back into their memories and recall the dog days of the summers of their youth. Those in rural areas can remember long, hot days working outside on the farm without government intervention.

However, back then, people dealt with the matter not as a crisis but as a cross that needed to be endured. In those times, there was no air conditioning. People protected themselves from the sun by wearing light clothing. They accustomed themselves to the weather with common sense. They survived and even acquired character by meeting the challenges involved in working in the heat.

Looking for Solutions

The solutions for surviving “extreme” heat are pretty standard and have changed little over time. Even Ms. Gerstein admits that heat protection consists of simple precautions like getting enough breaks, shade and water. Most companies have measures in place to provide for these protections. However, some people are careless. Thus, she insists on programs, regulations and laws to eliminate any possible suffering or accidents.

The Socialist Mentality

A characteristic of the left is its desire to find all solutions in regulation and legislation. It must foresee and eradicate all potential tragedies.

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However, the problem goes much deeper. The socialist mentality cannot understand the notion of suffering. Socialists see all sufferings as injustices that must fit into a narrative of power and class struggle.

If a worker suffers in the heat, it must necessarily be caused by the exploitation of bosses or capitalism’s refusal to address climate change. Nothing can be blamed on unfortunate victims who are careless or even an accident.

Socialists refuse to see the reality of man’s fallen nature and the fact that suffering and tragedies will always exist. They hate the existence of suffering and seek to eliminate it through legislation.

The real solution is not denying suffering but embracing it with courage. Such resolution can build character and provide opportunities for learning in the effective school of hard knocks. That is why all things worth anything involve time, effort and suffering.

Indeed, the high temperatures are not the most extraordinary thing about today’s “extreme” heat disasters, but rather the left’s ability to turn normal heat waves into national catastrophes.

Photo Credit:  © surapong – stock.adobe.com

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