Being in London this week has been like having your home teleported somewhere else: You look around and everything is the same, but isn’t. The air is like Florida’s, hot and heavy to touch, the haze like a postcard of Los Angeles. My son went to school this morning in shorts, a vest, and a baseball cap that he turned backwards, as if he were actually in America. A mosquito buzzed in my ear as I sat in my darkened living room, the curtains drawn tight to keep the sun out. We don’t have air-conditioning in England, you see. That is the kind of thing people have in other countries, where the weather is extreme, where you go indoors to escape the heat—and where there are mosquitoes.
I just wrote an email to my friend Adam Roberts, who, like almost everyone in southern England and Western Europe, has been having a rough go of it:
Two years ago, when we had the Big Freeze here in Texas — three days without power, 35º F in most of the house, some warmth generated in one room only and by a rapidly diminishing supply of firewood (a friend eventually brought some over in his pickup) — the people responsible for the power generating stations said that their equipment wasn’t prepared for that kind of cold, and why should it have been, it was a freakish thing, once in a lifetime, etc. To which more reasonable people replied that that excuse works only once at most. From now on, they said, given the swings of temperature that we’ll surely be seeing, the Texas power grid will need to prepare for cold the way it prepares for heat.
It seems to me that the opposite may need to happen in northern Europe: an infrastructure preparing for heat the way it prepares for cold. And a mild-weathered place like Britain might need to invest in better preparation for both ends of the thermometer.
Fortunately, your nation and my state are blessed with exceptionally competent governments — they really know how to Level Up!!