For Britons, the weather is an intrinsic part of our culture and psyche. As British as tea and crumpets, it is the subject with which we start most conversations and the deciding factor for almost all of our daily activities. It is also the one thing that unites every Briton, a compulsion to moan about the weather, whatever the prevailing conditions may be.
However, although Britons have been moaning about the weather for centuries, today’s Brits are facing an uncomfortable conundrum – the weather they have been used to whinging about is changing. Climate change is undeniably impacting weather systems across the planet, leading to more extreme conditions like those we have seen in recent months here in Europe.
Heatwaves in the Mediterranean and flooding in northern Italy, coupled with record sea temperatures, are just some of the phenomena that have been creating headlines across the continent. Brits, however, never fail to amaze me with their ability to stare adversity in the face and to rush headlong toward it, wearing their best Speedos and flip-flops.
The extreme temperatures across Greece and Spain have seen Britons flocking to popular holiday destinations, ready and prepared to bake themselves in their quest for the perfect tan. At home, should the temperature peak at anything above 25 degrees Celsius, the very same Brits would take it upon themselves to moan at record levels, but while on holiday, with a pina colada in hand, the 45 degree poolside temperature is seemingly perfect.
Indeed, Britons in Britain – and Britain itself – cannot handle the heat. It becomes headline news, train services cease, the roads crack, pavements melt and hosepipes are outlawed. We remark, in disbelief, as each day goes by without rain; “it’s been at least a month now, no rain at all, not a drop!” And we even grow tired of the BBQ, having eaten more sausages than is humanly possible over the summer’s first two or three sunny weekends.
But, hot summers are surely set to become our new normal, coupled with more extreme winters and unseasonable weather events throughout the year. More damaging storms, more severe flooding, more droughts. This is climate change in real life, it is of our own making and it is now beginning to show us what decades of denial is actually going to result in.
In this month’s Climate Change Collective post, Jamie talks about the changing weather and what we – and governments – can do to potentially address it and to take more personal responsibility for it. He has some great ideas, but I fear that world leaders will continue to merely pay lip service to the huge and fundamental changes needed to save our planet.
Unless we find ways to end our use of fossil fuels, we are on a one way trip to climate catastrophe. So, while I agree that we all need to do our bit, I’d love to see world leaders coming together to back the exploration and development of clean alternative fuels, such as nuclear fission. However, while their national agendas are full of local issues and challenges, such as the devastating war in Ukraine, I fear that there’s simply no way that climate change will get the air time it needs around the meeting table.
For Brits, therefore, our fascination and obsession with the weather will become even more intense in the years to come. Now though, it looks like the rest of the world will soon be joining us.