It was with some trepidation that I set off into the hills of Pyrenees Orientales on Saturday. The temperature was forecast to rise to 37°C by the afternoon – a level that is lethal, according to British news sites, even if you are sitting around in the garden. Apparently, today and tomorrow’s heatwave is going to kill thousands of Britons.
Was I going to end up being recorded in the local French newspapers as the foolish Englishman who perished after going out in the midday sun? I needn’t have worried. I didn’t see many people at first, but by the time I reached the more used paths, there were plenty of locals out enjoying the weather, including at least one family who had taken their young children on a stroll of several miles. Take a sunhat and plenty of water and there is nothing to be afraid of. Indeed, I ended up walking around 20 miles in heat that our own Met Office seems to regard as pretty well unsurvivable unless you stay indoors with a cold towel around your head.
The heatwave is just the latest manifestation of our own public authorities’ obsession with doom. Dominic Raab was in trouble on Sunday for merely suggesting that people might enjoy this week’s weather. In the grim orthodoxy of climate panic, sunny weather is not something to be enjoyed; it is a portent of doom, punishment for our excessively wealthy lifestyles and capitalism in general.
And don’t come on the humidity argument – the idea that high temperatures in Britain are so much more lethal in Britain than in other countries. The relative humidity at Heathrow Airport – a contender if any records are broken today or tomorrow – at 10 a.m. this morning was a perfectly pleasant 41 per cent. Britain is essentially in the same body of air as down here in South West France.
There is a side-effect to ordering us all to stay indoors during the heatwave. All we will soak up is the usual climate hyperbole being fed to us via our TV and websites – that we are being boiled alive in a man-made cataclysm. Fortunately, for now, I am somewhere where life is going on in spite of high temperatures, and people are allowed to enjoy, rather than feel guilty about, hot weather.
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