We embrace glorious heatwaves but keep our heads in the sand over climate crisis
PUBLISHED: 18:55 28 August 2019
Boiling hot weather in the UK usually gets celebrated on TV at the expense of the bigger picture of climate change, says Rachel Moore
We huffed and puffed our way through and sweated to the other side.
What a scorcher. Record-breaking temperatures, the headlines said. What glorious bank holiday weather!
"We couldn't have asked for better," a weather presenter on our local BBC channel said on Tuesday evening.
I'd beg to differ. Three days in a row of 30+-degree temperatures, the third unprecedented heatwave this year, the hottest August Bank Holiday on record, after the hottest July ever and the warmest June.
This is freak weather. Freakishness should make us worry. This is not normal but, scarily, it's becoming the new normal.
Stay out of the sun, the Met Office warned as the heatwave stretched to its fourth day. Stay indoors and keep your house cool.
At least this was some nod to an emergency situation in the making.
But, from the headlines, temperatures shooting up to near unbearable was presented as jolly positive stuff. Photos of packed beaches, people plunging into rivers to cool off, lots of ice cream licking and farm animals doused by hoses.
From where I was sitting/lying/sheltering/sweltering, it felt like a looming crisis. It simply didn't feel right. And it isn't. It felt like proof that we are hurtling towards a crisis of our own making, but no one was talking about global warming and climate change and why it might be happening.
Where was the explanation about how much hotter it is going to get if we continue to live the way we do? The earth is getting hotter because we are creating too much CO2.
Is there a conspiracy not to say it when announcing temperatures dangerous enough to merit a stay out of the sun warning?
Forest destruction and greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuel is putting more energy into the climate system, and hotter air brings heatwaves.
While we were basking in the heat on an extra day off, Greenland's ice sheet was melting like never before and children were splashing in the sea in 22-degree temperatures.
This ain't no normal heatwave, this is climate crisis.
Melting Arctic ice sheets signals a potentially catastrophic global rise in sea levels.
And it's all our fault. Scientists say these temperatures and wildfires would not be happening without human-induced climate change.
The extra carbon dioxide humans are putting into the atmosphere is making the earth's climate warmer, described as Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS)
Lying sleepless in yet another night of relentless heat, the consequences of ECS on my mind made me focus on the changes we can all make in our lives to counter the damage already done, if that's possible. Or stop it getting any worse at least.
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But, every day through the summer holidays, social media feeds of people flying off on holiday, sometimes several times. We don't think twice. Bagging the cheapest flights is something to boast about.
We don't link the effects those flights are having.
Taking a train to Paris rather than a plane cuts CO2 emissions by 91%, the ferry and train to Amsterdam results in an 80% cut in emissions compared to a flight.
We want convenience, speed and efficiency. The cost is the climate. The more emissions, the greater the damage. Taken to an extreme, catastrophe of it. We've felt it taking shape this week.
I'm no eco-evangelist, but I've read enough for this week's temperatures to scare me and to feel responsible for what might happen.
The weather's not glorious, it's frightening.
But we need to be told why this is happening and how each of us contributes to it for the message to sink in and families to make differences in how they live.
It's time for the Met Office and the news organisations to tell the story, not report the weather as a magical stroke of luck for us all.
Heatwave sounds so harmless and fun, like a gift from the weather fairies to make up for a string of manky miserable bank holidays.
As night follows day, freak temperatures are followed by thunderstorms as hotter air carries more water vapour so harder rain leading to flooding
It feels more uncomfortable than 32-degree heat that we have to take responsibility for this and can take action to preserve the world if we wish; if we were properly informed.
I hope that's the end of freaky heat this year, but I doubt it.
A WORRYING TREND:
Not wishing to sound unnecessarily churlish, but the increasing trend of people fundraising for their birthdays is starting to jar.
Perhaps it's because I don't respond well to being told what to do. If I want to donate to a particular cause, I will. I don't like being told that, instead of wrapping the gift I've already chosen, she or he would prefer a donation to their chosen charity.
I totally understand the feel-good motivation of raising funds, but challenge yourself to do something to raise it, other than just because it's your birthday and making people feel obliged to donate (probably more than they'd spend on a gift).
I realise that sounds mean, but it feels on a par with being faced with the dregs of a couple's wedding list when there's only a vegetable spiralizer and a trouser press left.
I'd far rather give a damn good bottle of champagne for them to enjoy together in a special place.
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