I Hate Summer—and You Should Too

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Wake me when it’s over—summer, that is. I know, I know, you just love it: the long days, the warm evenings, the trips to the beach, the afternoons at the ballpark when your favorite team is playing and the pennant race is tightening—and the temperature is skyrocketing, and your skin is blistering, and the beer is $6, and the drive home will be in 88° heat, which is fine if you don’t mind running the air conditioner, except that you’re burning through $4–a-gallon gas, because it’s summer-driving season and the giant oil companies didn’t get to be the giant oil companies without knowing the right time of year to hike their prices.

And that’s hardly all of it. Summertime is the season of horribles, from higher crime rates, to increased warfare, to spikes in asthma, to raging wildfires, to swarms of bugs, to a rise in traffic accidents—and even to a bump in divorces, because how could a 100° heat wave, a busted A.C., and the kids out of school not spell domestic bliss?

What’s more, it’s only getting worse. Last summer was the hottest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the 10 warmest years were all from 2010 to 2022. So with a lousy part of the year becoming lousier still, here, in no particular order, are nine reasons summer is the suckiest season of them all.

Road wrecks

There’s nothing like long days, no school, and lots of teen drivers to make the highways a safe place to be. Not. It’s no coincidence that the Automobile Association of America (AAA) labels the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day “the 100 deadliest days.” There are over 11.7 million U.S. drivers between the ages of 15 and 20, and if you know what’s good for you you’ll stay out of their way—especially when they’re out as a group, driving recreationally. “We know that when teens are joyriding as opposed to driving with a specific destination and time in mind, there is a heightened risk,” said Diana Gugliotta, senior manager of public affairs for AAA Northeast, in a statement last year.

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AAA’s numbers back that up. When a teen driver has only other teens in a vehicle, the risk of fatality for the driver and all passengers increases 51%. When at least one passenger is over 35, the overall fatality risk declines 8%. From 2011 to 2020, there were 7,316 deaths in summertime teen-related traffic accidents—nearly half the total of all teen-related traffic accidents for the year.

This means war

Napoleon Bonaparte could tell you a thing or two about what it’s like to pick a fight with Russia in the dead of winter. In 1812, the French army suffered half a million casualties in battles that climaxed in December—a rout that led to Napoleon’s abdication and exile in 1815. Any general worth his steed would prefer to fight in the summer when there’s plenty of light, the roads are clear, and soldiers aren’t bundled up against the cold. As far back as 55 BCE, the Roman army’s “campaigning season” would end when summer wound down and the soldiers would retreat to their winter quarters. It’s probably not a coincidence that World War I began in August 1914, World War II on Sept. 1, 1939, and Nazi Germany’s invasion of Russia in June 1941. More recently, in August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and in August 1991, the old Soviet Union nearly fell into civil war when communist hardliners tried to oust President Mikhail Gorbachev. America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan typically saw its fiercest fighting in the summer months, and the same is true of the war in Ukraine.

Hot-weather warfare is likely only to get worse. A 2009 paper in PNAS found that rising temperatures exacerbated by climate change could lead to a 54% increase in the risk of civil war in Africa by 2030. A 2011 study in Nature found that warmer weather during El Niño years doubled the risk of civil war in 90 tropical countries and could have accounted for 20% of conflicts around the world over the past half century. Meantime, what’s the season of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men? Wintertime, baby. Wintertime.

Going buggy

Summer advertises itself as the season of birdsong and butterflies. Don’t believe it. It’s the season of pests—particularly ticks, mosquitoes, flies, fleas, bees, and wasps. Ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas in particular can spread diseases that include malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, Lyme, and chikungunya. Bees, wasps, and yellowjackets—with their infernal stings—are similarly creatures of the summer. And you think you know flies? You don’t know flies. There are 110,000 species of them—most more active in hot weather—making up a global population of 17 million flies for every living human. Pssst! They’ve got us surrounded.

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Season of wheeze

Ah, summer, it takes your breath away. Literally. More than 25 million Americans have asthma, and 4.7 million of them are children—according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If that means suffering during the temperate months, it’s much worse when the oven that is summer turns the dial up to broil. Heat and humidity constrict and narrow airways, trap ozone, and cause the air to entrain more particulate matter from cars, trucks, and smokestacks. What’s more, stagnant summer air—especially in homes with poor air conditioning or none at all—can exacerbate the presence of mold, dust, and pollen. And then—and stop me if I’ve mentioned this before—climate change is making things more punishing still for people with asthma. A 2023 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found that rising temperatures could increase the incidence of childhood asthma by anywhere from 4% to 11%, due partly to worsening pollution and allergies, and the growing problem of wildfire smoke.

Speaking of wildfires…

When it comes to dust, haze, and a mustard-colored sky, Mars has got nothing on Earth—at least during the summer fire season. Last year’s Canadian wildfires, sparked by lightning and fueled by high temperatures and drought, torched more than 71,000 square miles of land in Canada—an area the size of North Dakota—and yellowed out skies in the U.S. from the Midwest to the Northeast to the mid-Atlantic states. But the U.S. is playing with matches too. California’s wildfire season runs from April through October—peaking in the summer—with megadroughts and heat waves driving the flames. Of the state’s 20 largest fires, half occurred from 2017 to 2022. Climate change, of course, plays a regrettable role in all of this.

Crime and punishment

Nothing puts bad guys in a bad mood like hot weather—or so it seems. A 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that on days with a maximum temperature above 85°F, all crime increases by 2.2% and violent crime by 5.7%. A 2023 study in PLOS One attributed this to what is known as the Theory of Routine Activities, which postulates that for crime to occur, three factors must be present: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and an absence of guards or surveillance. Of these, it is the second one—the suitable target—that is especially common in summer, according to the 2023 study, with greater numbers of people out on the streets.

As for the first variable, a motivated offender, well, even criminals don’t   want to be outside commiting a crime in a 20°-below polar vortex. During a particularly deep freeze in 2015, Boston saw a 32% drop in burglaries, a 35% drop in larceny, and 46% drop in vehicle theft. Over the same period, New York City set a modern-day record, going 12 days without a homicide.

Summer’s contribution to violent crime in particular may be due at least in part to the common experience of hot weather leading to hot tempers, with even the most even-keeled people more inclined to blow a seam if they can’t cool off. One 2020 study found that people playing competitive video games in a hot room were more aggressive toward their gaming partner than they were when the room was cooler.

Daylight Saving Time

Don’t get me started on Daylight Saving Time. There is just nothing to like about this spring-forward inanity. For starters, it increases energy consumption (when it was supposed to decrease it) due to greater use of air conditioning. The changes in sleep patterns it causes contribute to heart attack, stroke, inflammation, and suicide, not to mention a 6% increase in fatal traffic accidents due to circadian scrambling and overall sleepiness. Small children and teens suffer particularly when the change in the clocks affects sleep cycles.

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Finally, the atmospherics are all wrong. Nighttime is nighttime, people; the sun is the party guest that won’t go home if it’s still out at 9 p.m. I say send it packing no later than 8 p.m. and then race back to a nice wintertime sundown at cocktail hour. Cheers.

Trouble on the homefront

If you want to stay married, it might be wise to sleep through summer. That’s the finding of a 2016 study out of the University of Washington showing that August, along with March, are the two peak months for divorce in the U.S. The reason in both cases is more or less the same: couples tend to see winter and summer vacations as untouchable family time and, even in highly stressed marriages, will make it a point to hold the ship together for those treasured stretches. Once the good times are over, however, the marriages might be too.

“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” said sociology professor and the study’s co-author Julie Brines, in a statement at the time the research was released. “They’re very symbolically charged moments in time.”

When those expectations are dashed, a bust-up is likelier to follow. And while both early spring and late summer were implicated equally in that study, other research by Stowe Family Law in the U.K. found that September—the tail end of summer—is the peak divorce month on the other side of the pond, with total-immersion family time throwing financial, interpersonal, and other issues into relief.

It kills your skin

No matter how good it might feel to bake in the sun, your skin really, truly does not want a tan. In a rapidly warming world, it should come as no surprise that the sun is murder on your skin—drying it, aging it, cracking it, and much more importantly, leading to cancer. A 2022 paper in the journal Cureus found the highest rates of skin cancer diagnoses occurring from July to October.

Simple steps like wearing sunscreen, avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and wearing protective clothing can all help reduce the risk. Sunshine in the winter, of course, can cause similar damage, but in the summer you're out a whole lot more and wearing a whole lot less. That—like summer as a whole—spells trouble.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the date of Napoleon Bonaparte's abdication. It was 1815, not 1914.

Write to Jeffrey Kluger at jeffrey.kluger@time.com.