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The Dead Heat of Summer

One of my favorite Spike Lee movies takes place during a brutal heatwave in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the high temperatures and simmering racial pressures explode into anger and a deeply unsettling interrogation of American identity.  Someone more talented than me could probably compile a big long list of the intense periods of conflict and disaster which accompany extended heat waves, but basically, let’s just conclude that nothing good really happens when a teeming metropolis is made to suffer a week of 90 degree weather.

Moscow is no exception, and with high temperatures over the past three weeks, we’ve seen droughts, fires, and fears of food shortages, as well as Reuters’s annual story of drunken swimming deaths (ringing in at 49 in just one day).  (Hat tip to Streetwise Professor, who has a posting commenting on this “dumbfounding” high rate of alcohol-related deaths in the heat of the Russian summertime).

I remark that the Reuters piece seems to be an annual tradition, as I recall publishing a similar post in 2007.  In that year, 28 people died of drowning in one single day during a heat wave.  It’s very sad stuff, but for an apparently reoccurring problem like this, I sure hope the authorities or some NGOs can think of some preventative strategies.