The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Summer in the city

Aug 13, 2001

Unless your idea of fun is non-stop sweating for 120 hours, Detroit was no place to be during the blistering second week in August. From one day to the next, the temperature kept climbing: from 95 on Sunday, to 96 on Monday to 98 on Tuesday, and near 100 on Wednesday, with the humidity increasing even faster. Thursday, the temperature was “only” 96. But the humidity had jumped so high that you could almost put your hand out and wring water from the air.

As if that weren’t enough, Detroit Edison found itself unable to provide all the power needed to keep the air conditioners running. It seems that Edison calculates its capacity for the times of low usage – and not for the times when it’s most needed!

Even so, there could have been an easy way to resolve the problem: close all those plants which draw enormous amounts of electricity. Certainly, it was outrageous that plants where temperatures inside were even hotter than outside were keeping people inside under these murderous conditions.

No, Ford wanted the electricity and Ford got it. Its River Rouge complex continued to gobble up enormous amounts of electricity from the Edison system.

Unwilling to offend the partner with whom it’s building a new power generating facility, Edison instead ran rolling blackouts through parts of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and southwest Detroit: 6 hours on, 6 hours off. And damn the people who desperately need electricity for medical apparatuses; damn the older people and those with asthma and other breathing problems who can die of hyperthermia when their air-conditioning goes off.

That’s not Ford’s problem – nor Edison’s. They have profits to count.