Political hotheads and scientist caught off guard

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

It’s a long time since I remember such a promising start to summer.

In the middle of last month I was bemoaning the fact there was scarcely a blade of green grass to be seen anywhere in the countryside. Up in the mud-clad hills behind me I had witnessed the struggle sheep were having to find food, their skinny lambs craning their little necks through fencing on the roadside to get something to eat.

People carry the coffins of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, in the background, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala

People carry the coffins of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, in the background, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala

My garden appeared to be permanently swamped, I couldn’t plant any vegetables and walking the dog could only be tackled after donning wet gear which hadn’t had time to dry out from the previous day’s soaking. What about a short holiday to the sun I suggested to Himself until he pointed out that most of the sun spots in the Med were just as bad, in some cases worse, a fact confirmed by my niece who lives in Italy. What would be the point in spending five days of a seven day break in your hotel room?

My one experience in the past was Majorca with my young son. Our break in the so-called sun spot was beset with constant wind and occasional torrential downpours. Another time in the south of France was just as bad. I’ve never trusted the Med since, always packing a mac just in case.

It could be worse of course. Elsewhere in the world volcanoes have erupted, there have been serious mud slides, bush fires and floods of biblical proportions. Is this the future? Even here I know our beloved Slemish Mountain is just the core of a long ago erupted volcano but what’s happening up there in that wee mountain beset by visitors each St. Patrick’s Day? Are any scientists checking to see if another volcano is growing around it? I hope my daughter-in-law isn’t reading this. She studied volcanology and would no doubt be appalled at my ignorance. But, sure don’t scientists also get things wrong? Did any of them foretell Sunday’s Guatemalan volcanic disaster which generated pyroclastic flows and sent ash 33,000 feet into the sky? I’ve been to Pompeii twice. I know what pyroclastic flows are and what they can do. Wasn’t one of my favourite television historians Dr Bethany Hughes on the screen only last week telling us all about Pompeii? Did she not know either about Guatemala?

An ex-newspaper man, Himself takes a more realistic view of all my climate fears reminding me that June was always the silly month for news or to be accurate `no news’ at all and people made things up or at least exaggerated a bit. At that riposte I flashed before him a full half page from the Daily Telegraph with the headline `how the moon is making the days a little longer’. Surely that was proof that something was going on in the world we should know more about? A shorter version suggested that a 25-hour day was coming because the moon was moving away from our planet. You can see how neurotic one can get at the very idea. But then he pointed to the bit in brackets which suggested that this wasn’t going to happen for 200 million years. I have a proper stargazer’s telescope tucked away in the storeroom since we moved house. I think it’s time to get it out again and keep an eye out myself. Just to be prepared you understand.

Could the whole Brexit saga be having an effect on our climate? My mother always said that the few summers before the World War 11 broke out were terrible. Political earthquakes, so to speak, such as Brexit would need a splash of feel-good hot summer weather to calm the hotheads who think we should just cave in and stay in the EU. Then there were those hot-under-the-collar women speaking in Westminster this week, including our own Karen Bradley who should have known better, demanding abortion legislation for Northern Ireland even though it’s an issue that Theresa May quite rightly says is a devolved issue and should be sorted out here. Then there was Sammy Wilson, bright red-faced – was it the heat in the chamber? – putting the case for not having abortion law here.

Maybe the weather should cool down a bit to save all the hotheads from losing it altogether.