What I want to suggest is that, from a purely UK perspective, as well as for others in cooler climes, a warming of the atmosphere might not be such a bad thing.
We’ve been having a dreadful summer, haven’t we? What with the wildfires in Saddleworth Moor and Epping Forest, the on-off hosepipe ban in the northwest of England, and the Met Office advice not to emerge from your darkened home (unless absolutely necessary) between the danger hours of 11am and 3pm, you could almost have imagined that you were, well, in the big, bad abroad. Thank goodness everything has calmed down and we are back to nice, normal 20 degrees: variable, with showers.
Except that, I must admit, this is not quite how it has seemed to me. Yes, London was a furnace in the middle of the day; the Royal Parks are still more brown than green, and the weather forecasts – another sunny day, 29, even 30 degrees, or whatever – were becoming almost as irrelevant as they must be in the Sahara.
Yet, most people seemed to be having the time of their life. Streets and parks teemed with visitors and natives, cheerfully dressed (more or less) and obviously enjoying the outdoors. There was more colour and variety than is usually on show in this country. Parasols, sun hats and fans abounded. There was chatter and laughter. Public transport might have been oppressive to unbearable – where was that air conditioning we were promised? – but good humour generally prevailed; bus drivers waited for panting would-be passengers; buggies were graciously moved aside for wheelchairs.
Restaurants and bars were full – here at last was our long-awaited continental cafe culture. And everyone seemed that bit more relaxed, with a little more time to stand and stare – even if, dare I mention, at least some of us were still sort of at work. In sum, it was indeed like being abroad – but in a good way. Passing the parched Parliament Square one early evening last week, it seemed strange that no one was playing boules.
And when a sudden flurry of storms doused the streets one afternoon, complete strangers laughed together, shared umbrellas, or got drenched together. There was even dancing in the rain. Then the sun came out again, and it was back to the ice cream and deckchairs in the city.
All of which is a prelude to posing a rather awkward question. Could it be that, in some respects at least, climate change might be good for us? Might there be an upside to something we have regarded hitherto almost entirely as a threat?