I have been in France for almost a month now, and the heat has been relentless.
Stepping off the plane at Carcassonne airport in mid July into what felt like a fan oven, reminded me of temperatures I had not experienced since living in the UAE where the thermometer was regularly into the forties. According to my phone the local temperature that afternoon was peaking at 38 degrees. Not quite Dubai, but not far off.
Over the next few days I tried to ‘acclimatise’. My old stone village house is a renovation project that I bought a few years back. It is generally quite adept at maintaining a comfortable ambient interior temperature in the summer without recourse to air conditioning. The exterior walls are almost half a metre thick on the south facing façade, and normally manage to absorb the heat without transmitting it. By keeping the window shutters closed during the day ( and open at night). The house pretty much self regulates the interior temperature to somewhere around 20°C, and sleeping at night after a day of DIY and a glass or two of vin is never too difficult.
Not so this year. Those 38 degree afternoon peaks have continued day after day after day, with barely a blip, and so those stone walls have now reached thermal capacity and at night become giant radiators. Sleeping, even with an electric pedestal fan on full blast close by is definitely rather more tricky. I have been trying to avoid the air conditioner route, as I am trying to keep things ‘sustainable’ in my approach to the renovation, but yesterday I found myself looking longingly at the portable items on offer in my local DIY warehouse. No doubt the purchase of such items is only going to exacerbate problems for the planet, and add to my electricity bill, but sleep deprivation is a proven torture technique, and I am sure they are leaving the shelves like hot (cool) cakes.
Seriously though, this has been a wake up call of sorts to me. ‘Climate change’, that somewhat glib and meaningless catch-all phrase for all things bad that will perhaps change the weather and make life a bit more difficult for the planet and eventually us is the problem, because words matter, and for most of us, ‘Climate change’ doesn’t really equate to extinction event.
Living in the UK most of the year, one of the reasons I chose to buy a property in ‘sunny France ‘ was to see more of it, the sun that is. So who cares if ‘global warming’ adds a few degrees here ‘n’ there? The UK might even get some sun for once, (and indeed it has.)
But be careful what you wish for; That sun that we seek. That same one that’s so nice to bask and turn brown in before taking a cooling dip, is the same sun now beating down interminably like some sort of demon welders arc. Day after day, its white hot glow sears and burns. Turning the fields of France to parchment, drying the rivers to a trickle, and setting forests ablaze across the continent. There is nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. All I can do is sit and pray for respite and rain whilst watching .
‘Climate change’ , then is something much bigger and more profoundly serious than I think even those of us who thought we were taking it seriously realised.
Forget your Net Zero by 2030 ( or 2050) , your Carbon offsetting, your Green energy tax.. (Ahh, Rishi/Liz you did already?)
Well no matter, because ‘Climate change’no longer matters, because turns out that climate change was just the trailer. The climate changed, and the main feature is about to begin
Coming soon to a theatre near you. ( Don’t say you weren’t warned).
Climate Apocalypse Now.