Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Heat Apocalypse

 This is possibly how London sees itself right now...

(James Francis Danby, The Houses of Parliament from the River, 1864)

There is a persistent note of hysteria in the collective British response to rising temperatures these days. When it is excessively cold, anyone who moans is reminded not to confuse weather with climate. This is unlikely to happen in summertime ever again. 

The news item on SKY which most struck me today was the closure of a recreational boating service on the Thames, owing to 'dangerous' levels of heat. 

Yet these same people too afraid to frolick on the water will happily fly over here and frolick away down at sea level where 38 degrees is about average for many months of the year. 

And the airport runways don't melt. 

It's hard not to conclude that we Brits fear climate change as somehow particularly threatening to our national character — as if a few more degrees of heat will turn us into Italians, Spaniards or, God forbid, Greeks. Ater all, we have some quite ingrained prejudices about people who live in hot countries. 

The Spanish of course are no lazier than us, and have evolved a pattern of life that suits their summer climate. It may well suit us to do the same. It could be done more easily and quickly than reaching Net zero, but it seems we will still prefer to moan about the changing climate rather than adapt to it in any practical manner.

Previous generations tended to respond to collective crises with individual solutions (buy an ice lolly, jump in the fountain etc.). But millennials appear far more likely to relentlessly convert collective difficulties into cosmic calamities. "Phew, what a scorcha!" has become "Behold, the heat apocalypse". 

The pandemic hasn't helped. We might as well rename the House of Commons the House of Cobra.

That said, the tendency for the entire country to fall apart every time some unusual conditions emerge is hardly something which has developed overnight. 

1 comment:

norm said...

I had to put in central AC about four years ago because the summers had become too warm for indoor comfort. The unit was running today by 8AM. We'll all have to adapt. I was tilling squash at 6:30 AM, by 10 it was too hot for heavy physical work. I've spent the hot part of the day on the tractor mowing the back lot's rambles. It is in the mid 90s at 2:30PM. Hot but nothing crazy.