Mike Vogel grew up in Brooklyn and is a lifetime New Yorker. (He taught in the NYC Public
A monster storm unleashes nature's deadliest killer on New York City!
Nope, that's not the weather forecast, it's the premise of the movie "Sharknado 2," which debuts tonight on Syfy. Sharks are always good for a scare or three. It's no accident that "Jaws" is one of the most popular -- and scariest -- movies of all time.
Three great white sharks were caught off NYC in a one week span last month, starting our summer off with a frightening DAH-dah, DAH-dah . . .
But the truth is that sharks are not nature's deadliest killer -- not even close. They only killed about a dozen people last year worldwide, putting them way down the list of the world's deadliest animals.
So what is the world's worst people killer? Did someone say other humans? Nope, we're only second worst.
Don't laugh. Mosquitoes carry lethal diseases, with malaria being the most prevalent. It kills more than half a million people each year.
But do these deadly insects have the fear factor of sharks? Ha!
"Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do," Bill Gates said in April, when he tried to create a buzz with a "Mosquito Week" alert on his blog. But it was no match for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" annual scarefest.
Although most deaths from mosquitoes happen in impoverished nations, the United States isn't totally spared. In 2013, the mosquito-borne West Nile virus was responsible for 119 deaths here -- 117 more than were caused by sharks.
But people are always afraid of the wrong things, aren't they? For example, many people are terrified of flying, relaxing only after they land -- when they are statistically in greater danger on the car ride home.
So how do we get people to pay attention to the real dangers facing them, in this case from mosquitoes?
Gates has suggested a movie titled "Skeeternado," to alert people to the menace posed by the buggers.
So if you're down at the beach this weekend and see that telltale shark fin jutting out of the ocean, relax -- it poses little danger.
But when a mosquito buzzes by? That may be another story. So forget the sharks. Get the swat team!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.