Michigan summers are not anywhere near as hot as those in Texas or Florida, although we can come close to matching the humidity levels of those states in July and August.

By the time you read this, those temperatures should be starting to moderate here and in much of the U.S. The 90°F days of July and August are giving way to 70s and even some days in the 60s in parts of the country. 

As I write this in mid-August, warm humid temperatures are still the norm. And that’s probably why a number of newspaper columns have been published recently discussing the potential damage air conditioning does to the environment and whether our affinity for cool indoor air is healthy. 

Among those I saw was a column from Stan Cox, author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World. His Washington Post column acknowledged that modern construction has made air conditioning a necessity, but Cox said that comes at an environmental cost. He suggested that many residents of less dense areas, such as rural communities and many suburbs, could get by without air conditioning by opening windows, strategically planting trees and turning on a fan.

Cox also points out that most people can adapt to much warmer temperatures than they realize. Prior to the widespread adoption of home air conditioning in the 1970s and ‘80s, most people survived just fine, he said. 

After a visit to rural Thailand last month, I can attest that many residents there seem just fine despite stifling temperatures and humidity levels. Even with daytime highs in the 90s and humidity to match, many locals wore jeans and long sleeves despite living in homes without air conditioning, where temps were only a few degrees cooler than outside. 

Me? I was suffocating. I can adapt to relatively warm indoor temperatures as long as humidity levels stay low, but the never-ending humidity everywhere had me wishing there was a thermostat to save me.

The passing of an industry friend 

I have some sad news to report. Rian Scheel, the vice president of marketing for Mestek Machinery, has died. 

Scheel passed away Aug. 9 of lung and brain cancer. Scheel started in the sheet metal industry in 1977, three years before he graduated from Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Illinois, by performing landscaping for the Lockformer Co. He spent his whole career with the sheet metal forming machinery company. He later worked in the assembly and service departments before moving into sales in 1984 — the same year he graduated from Valparaiso University in Indiana. He later became a project coordinator, regional sales manager, North America and South America sales manager, and vice president of sales and marketing. In 2001, he was promoted to Lockformer vice president and general manager. 

Scheel is survived by his wife, Mara; daughter, Lena; and son, Preston. In lieu of flowers, the family has established an education fund. Donations may be sent to Chase Bank, 906 W. Jefferson St., Shorewood, IL 60404, in care of Mara Scheel. 

Scheel was a good man who loved to talk about sheet metal machinery. Discussions with him last year were part of the reason we brought back the Snips Shop Layouts issue last December. Our thoughts are with his family, co-workers and friends.