This summer, an abnormal heat wave struck Europe. We have been accustomed to thinking of Europe as part of the First World, and area where freak natural events did not automatically mean thousands of casualties. For example, flooding last year forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands in Germany and in the recently Communist Czech Republic. There were no results of hundreds or thousands of deaths. But, surprisingly, this summer's heat in Europe has been linked to 10,000 deaths in France and uncounted deaths throughout Europe. (Numbers were obtained by French undertakers comparing this summer to last summer.)
Why? France is not Bangladesh, not Liberia, not even Mexico. France is a member of the G-7, with an industrial economy, and for all the jokes, a serious country. France has the economic capacity to deal with unexpected problems--or should.
So why are old and sick Frenchmen dying in droves just because it's hot? It's a heat wave, not a meteor strike. It's 100 degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius. This is not a sudden, unexpected, deadly plague. It's hot, that's all. Why do temperatures in France kill people while the same temperatures mean a hot, but playable golf day in the US. Because Europeans do not, as a rule, have air conditioning.
Patrick J. Michaels, of Foxnews.com, explains why. European governments tax energy heavily. Air conditioners are energy hogs, and so, in Europe, they are inordinately expensive. Since they cannot afford to run them, Europeans do not buy them. Since Europeans do not buy them, stores do not sell them.
Why is energy taxed heavily in Europe? To limit consumption. Environmentalism kills.
Note: I apologize for placing Mexico 2003 in the category of Third World states. I realize that Mexico is a member of the OECD and an outside shot for a Major League Baseball franchise in the relatively near future. However, many Americans still remember when Mexico was a Third World country.