July 22, 2013 – News stories about the recent heat wave in England may not, at first hearing, sound all that alarming to American ears. Temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s constitute a very normal part of American summers, particularly in the middle of the country. Grassfires measured in “football pitches” may cause quizzical looks, and not much more. The fact remains, however, that nearly 800 people have died because of the ongoing abnormally high temperatures.First of all, anyone living at the latitude of the British Isles is simply not accustomed to hot temperatures. It is true that the blood of people living in northern climates thickens, while the opposite occurs to people who live in the south. We can be grateful this is true – it’s a natural defense against becoming too cold or too hot. When “normal” gets stood on its head – and we are all becoming acquainted with how that feels – what “normally” works, doesn’t.
It’s always surprising to me that people who smoke need to be told not to dispose of their lit cigarettes by throwing them into dry grass. That goes for Americans at least as much as everybody else. Out West, this simple act can result in thousands of acres of forest burning. The English are being shocked into awareness by the scores of fires burning in their country right now. They’re small, when compared to our western fires, but dangerously close to the city. Fire is fire the world over: it’s frightening, it’s polluting, and it can be very destructive.If you’ve never been lucky enough to visit England, it’s a magical place. London is the City of Cities, offering anything you could possibly want. The history, majestic buildings, and endless opportunities for exploration could fill a lifetime. The countryside is gorgeous and green, the walking paths opening onto idyllic views that are never closed off merely because they belong to somebody. Everyone can enjoy them.
England is green because it usually enjoys lots of rain. Indeed, for Englanders, that is what makes England – England. Drought and high temperatures are different enough to be very unwelcome. I believe I’m correct in saying that air conditioning is unknown in most parts. The part of me that has lived in Texas and North Carolina chuckles a little bit when I see articles in British newspapers about how to dress in the heat. Wearing relatively little probably feels very odd to them!Dealing with highs in the 90’s (it may get up to 95F this week in London) isn’t easy for anybody. Believe it or not, a newly-poured road in the city of Cambridge has begun to melt, collecting in a large wave at the side of the road! An average of 21 wildfires are burning every day. Apparently most have been started by cigarette butts or barbecues (I’d never heard of a disposable barbecue before, but it seems they have them in England). Anyone unacquainted with the relatively recent spate of terrible flooding in England needs to realize that this small country is being battered by everything Mother Nature has in her bag of tricks.
What happens next is up to each one of us.
With thanks to The Telegraph (UK).