It’s Time To Stop Saying It’s ‘Just Summer’

Today we reached 32 degrees in Burnley, a temperature I don’t think I’ve ever seen here. Tomorrow it’s forecast to reach 36 degrees. That’s definitely a temperature I’ve never seen here. We’re living in unprecedented times when we’re seeing temperatures like that in the North of England. If you look at what the experts are saying, periods like this will only become more common. 

People keep banging on about how the media is going overboard with their warnings. While the media are no strangers to hyperbole, and headlines that include words like ‘apocalypse’ are on the extreme side, the media also has a job to inform people and warning us about the dangers of extreme heat is exactly what they should be doing. Would you rather they stay quiet and don’t give out sensible advice through channels that millions of people read every day?

People accuse the media of not focusing on the climate crisis enough, then dismiss it all as ‘clickbait’ when the headlines eventually decide to run with it. On the other hand, the people dismissing such warnings from the media are probably the same people who don’t believe we have a climate crisis at all and that the hot temperatures are ‘just summer’. 

I’m convinced that lots of people only read headlines. These are usually fed to them in one of their social feeds, then they rush to the comments to spout their opinions without taking the time to read the content of the article. In fact, there’s research to back that up. According to a study in 2016, 59% of people shared links to news stories without ever clicking on the link. 

If you actually took the time to read the content of these seemingly hyperbolic news stories about the UK heatwave, you’ll discover that this isn’t normal. As stated in this ITV News article, the average maximum summer temperature here in the UK is 23-24C. The possibility of it reaching 40C means that it’s 17C higher than the lowest average maximum temperature. That’s not normal. It’s not ‘just summer’ and it’s not something we regularly experience in this country. Especially not 40C, which has never been reached in the UK since records began (the highest recorded temperature so far is 38.7C, which was set in Cambridge in 2019). How can people look at a temperature like that, in a country that’s known for having lousy weather, and think that everything is ok?

The warnings put out by the media are simply common sense advice that you should be following. When you go abroad to countries that regularly hit extreme temperatures, you’d be stupid to not consume more water than you would if you were back in the 23C summer of the UK. Countries abroad have also evolved to cope with these temperatures. People are used to working in higher temperatures, and they take breaks when the sun is at its highest. Air conditioning is also common in public and private buildings – including homes. Infrastructure in hot countries is built with heat in mind, and homes are designed to be cool inside. In the UK, our homes are designed to keep heat in.

But here’s what people fail to think about. If you’re fit and healthy then, as long as you stay hydrated and keep in the shade between 11am – 3pm, you’ll probably be fine. But, guess what? There are plenty of vulnerable people out there who won’t be fine. In fact, more people die during heatwaves. People need to get over the fact that it’s not just about them, and we live in a country where millions of people are vulnerable to events such as extreme weather. 

It reminds me of Covid when people thought it was ok to not wear a mask at the height of the pandemic, forgetting about the fact that it was done to protect those around you (actually, it was simply not giving a shit, and believing crazy conspiracies that some guy you went to school with 20 years ago has been posting all over Facebook). You might be ok if you have Covid, but that person with a weakened immune system who caught it off you in the super market might end up in hospital on death’s door.  

‘It’s ok, I’ll be fine’, seems to be the mentality of the people who spout that it’s ‘just summer’. Meanwhile, they’re unaware that their 80 year-old next-door neighbour has dropped dead from heatstroke.

When did we stop listening to experts anyway? Why are there so many people saying ‘I did my own research’? Like reading dodgy sites while you’re sat on the toilet somehow trumps experts who have dedicated their lives to studying a single topic. We have access to all the world’s information in our pockets, yet we’re somehow dumber than ever. Don’t Look Up, that film on Netflix about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth while everyone ignores the warnings of scientists, was 100% on the mark.

Of course, I’m no expert. But I listen to the experts. I try to understand what they’re saying. I don’t just read a headline and then jump into the comments to spout nonsense.  

So, if you do want to take the time to read more about what’s going on at the moment, click through to the links below. 

The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool – The Guardian 

‘Collective action or collective suicide’: U.N. chief issues a stark warning as heatwaves sear Europe, the U.S. and China – Fortune 

UK Heatwave: Britain’s 40C future and why our homes, trains and schools aren’t prepared – I News 

Disability and the heatwave: Cooling solutions and disability as weather alert goes red – BBC News 

This excellent Twitter thread that sums up what’s happening across Europe. 

Advice and information from the Met Office. 

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