If you live in Britain you must be sick of hearing about it: England recorded temperatures of above 40C this week for the first time on record. Wednesday the 20th July was 230 years in the making, and it didn’t feel great.
Why 230 years? The Industrial Revolution is described as beginning around the 1790s and the epic burning of fossil fuels since then has built up so much carbon in the atmosphere that the globe is warming at a rate that earth’s current residents haven’t ever had to deal with before.
Why am I mansplaining this? I spoke to someone the other day who said that we should just enjoy the weather.
My body seems to want what Western Ireland had to offer on the hellfire day, 17C and cloud, rather than the 36C my West Sussex garden thermometer clocked up in the shade. Not much enjoyment there.
It was so harsh the spiders had to leave their nooks because it was too hot under the black painted wood of the shed. A few hours later when the sparrows reappeared they went hunting for eight-legged snacks.
I’ve spent much of the past week feeding my cat in-law, doing regular evening and morning walks across town. I’ve noticed birds behaving differently: a green woodpecker feeding in the middle of a quiet road, a jay sitting on a gravestone at 9pm, and butterflies fluttering around the garden at dusk.
I’ve found a local house martin nest is occupied for another year in the old part of town, the parents flying around before 8am when it was nearly 30C. It turns everything inside out.
I’ve also noticed how many front gardens have been paved over and how much of a bad move that is when the mercury rockets. It also looks terrible. It’s another product of cars becoming status symbols, especially when 3 of them are sitting in front of your house. That house is now several degrees warmer because of the lack of vegetation or water.
Recently I’ve heard a bird of prey calling from high above my house. Last week I managed to get a photo and a sketchy video. I sent the video to my friend and he confirmed it was a pair of peregrine falcons. I’ve heard them almost everyday through the heatwave, and even woken to them at dawn. I wasn’t sure if that was a dream, however. I’ve been suspicious that they might be local having spotted them flying over the town and also heading south, probably to the South Downs and one of the old chalk quarries. Maybe their exposed perches have been too hot for their talons, sending them out into the sky.
Thanks for reading.