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Storm observing issue #238: Enjoying storms
Storm observers occasionally deal with outsiders (and even a few fellow storm observers) who criticize us for enjoying tornadoes and severe weather, because they are phenomena that can cause death and destruction. They say our enthusiasm is out of place, and we should be more subdued when it comes to our affinity for storms. After all, storms have shattered many lives, and therefore being happy about seeing one is inconsiderate to those affected by them.
The crux of such criticism is a sharp judgement on storm observers that we are insensitive to the plight of our fellow man, an erroneous assessment that I find both unfair and insulting. It is a patronizing act to tell a storm observer that they should reflect on what storms can do before getting excited about them, and that we should feel guilty for having a fascination toward something that can occasionally produce tragedy.
Storms that kill and destroy are the exception rather than the rule - most storms that storm observers derive enjoyment from do little more than stir up dirt in open fields. Furthermore, the world is full of things that people enjoy that can also cause tragedy from time to time. I think the best way I can demonstrate the absurdity of this criticism is to apply the exact same logic to other commonly enjoyed things in life:
- Snow: During the Christmas season, snow is celebrated. Most everyone longs for a 'white Christmas', and songs on the radio declare "Let it Snow". People gasp in delight when they wake up and see the ground covered. Kids go out and have a great time sledding, making snowmen and having snowball fights. But snow and ice are weather's number one threat to the life of the average person in the USA. Every time it snows, cars crash, people get hurt, and many lives are lost. So, we should stop wishing for snow and curb our happiness when it happens.
- Sunny days: Exposure to ultraviolet rays is a known cause of several human ailments, possibly the worst being skin cancer and severe sunburn. Some have developed eyesight problems from too much UV exposure. We shouldn't be happy about those clear-blue sunny days out of respect for those who have been harmed by them.
- Rain: Some people love the sound of rain. It helps flowers grow and keeps our grass green. But rain also causes flooding. It causes hydroplaning accidents and people sometimes get splashed by puddles, ruining their expensive clothes. No more appreciation for rain is appropriate - after all, it does occasionally cause harm.
- NASCAR: Crashes are common and many drivers have been hurt and killed. Fans accordingly should remain solemn and subdued about races.
- Football and Hockey: Players often suffer serious injuries during games that end up affecting them for the rest of their lives. No more cheering at games out of respect for the injured.
- Water: Hundreds of children drown in pools every year. People who enjoy swimming should temper their enthusiasm. Don't be insensitive toward the families who have been affected by drownings.
- Bicycles: Bicycle riding has a very high casualty rate in the US, surpassing all weather-related deaths combined. Buying and riding a bicycle should be solemn and reverent acts out of respect for the many lives lost.
- Cars: Car enthusiasts should be ashamed of enjoying a machine that has one of the highest death tolls of any other in the history of humankind.
- Airplanes: Love to fly? OK, but tone down your passion for it. Plane crashes kill thousands around the world every year.
I could go on and on about this, but hopefully the point is apparent. Chances are, some of the activities that these critics themselves enjoy may be responsible for more casualties than storms.
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