But what effect will these record temperatures have on the spread of bird flu?
Not what I call a hot story
by Ross Clark
CAN THERE be any headline more disappointing than the words: “Britain sizzles as heatwave breaks records”? It is usually followed by a report about the hottest Tuesday in Bognor Regis for four years. Admittedly this week’s “record” temperature — 36.5C at Wisley, Surrey, on Wednesday — was a little more substantial. But even so, the news was received in my house with a large yawn.
This, supposedly, was the highest temperature recorded in Britain in July. But that is only if you discount the 38.1C recorded in Tonbridge on July 22, 1868. This record is faithfully listed in my dog-eared copy of The English Climate by H. H. Lamb, of the Meteorological Office, (published 1954) but has now been struck from the records on the basis that the thermometer and its housing is not now considered to have conformed to modern standards. Of course it didn’t: it was built in the 1860s, that’s why.
The real reason the 1868 heatwave has been wiped from the historical record, of course, is that it is highly inconvenient for the global warming lobby. How can you scare people into thinking that every hot summer day constitutes yet more evidence of man-made meteorological doom when actually it was even more sizzling back on that balmy day in Tonbridge when gentlemen were briefly driven to remove their stove-pipe hats?
Logically, of course, if you strike out one Victorian record you should strike them all out.
Yet, whenever it suits them, members of the global warming brigade are more than happy to quote dubious anecdotal evidence to try to prove their point that we are all slowly being fried.
The reason weather records keep getting broken, both in Britain and the world at large, is not so much that the world is becoming warmer — or, as is alternatively asserted in the case of a record freeze, the climate is becoming more extreme. It is because there are many more recording stations than there used to be, t increasing the chances that an extreme climatic event will be recorded. Moreover, compared with old thermometers, mod- ern recording equipment is capable of registering very brief increases in temperature of a few seconds’ duration.
I’ve got to go now and turn down my electric fan. It is almost getting chilly in my office. Hold the front page! It is the coldest day in Cambridgeshire since last Sunday.
It has been well-observed that a consequence of our 24-hour news culture is the wildfire viral spread of half-understood and context-free here-today gone-tomorrow memes, especially memes predicting global disaster. Journalists interviewing journalists about reports originating in newsfeeds written by journalists based on their interviews with other journalists.
The upshot is that nearly all ‘news’ is nonsense. The BBC have had no new updates in their Bird Flu section since the beginning of July. Now that summer’s here, we’ve got global warming again.
I have a radical solution: Olds™. All domestic news should be reported with a good 10 years’ worth of hindsight; all science, technology, international politics and military reporting should be given at least 20 years to mature, and nothing at all should be said about the climate until 500 years have passed. Bulletins need last no longer than two or three minutes.
So a sample of today’s Olds™ might be: “Good evening, here are the Olds. There was no Millennium Bug. Turns out we should have got rid of Saddam properly first time around. Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash that was a pure accident: sad, but don’t go mad over it. Good night.”