It’s been a hot few days in Melbourne,. The temperature today is 36C and forecast to be 37C tomorrow. It was 37C on Christmas day and a few days earlier, the temperature reached 41.5C.
My friend, Janet Morris, told me that today in Minneapolis, it was -15F. That’s about -26C so there is a 50C degree (115F) difference between here and there. I don’t know how to live in a place that can get that cold! This year we seemed to have one of the coldest winters that I can remember but we were only getting maximum temperatures of about 8 or 9 C. It isn’t anywhere near as cold as that in Minneapolis, but my old bones didn’t like it at all. We seem to be going from one extreme to the other.
It’s interesting to see how people in different parts of the our geography handle the heat. In Australia, we generally close up the house and try to keep the house cool inside. In New Zealand, everyone opens up the their windows to create an air flow through the house on a hot day. I guess that’s because their hot days are not accompanied by extremely hot northerly winds that blow super-heated air from the centre of the continent, like ours, which is mostly desert.
We seem to have recently had some odd extremes. For most of the time that it has been hot in Melbourne with raging bushfires, it has been wet and stormy in Sydney. Oregon in the USA has recently had wildfires in winter and for a few weeks, London had balmy weather when it normally would have been snowing.
Sometimes, very silly things happen in conjunction with the weather. The hardware chain in Australia, Masters, is a joint venture between Woolworths and the American DIY company, Lowes (from whom they source a good deal of their stock). Apparently, Lowes sent a shipment of snow shovels to Masters recently because no on told them that January in Australia is actually summer and not the snow season as it is in the USA.
People are complaining that climate change is increasing temperatures, yet these daily temperatures are really similar to those that I remember as a kid – only then we didn’t have air conditioners or houses that were effectively insulated. All we could do to keep cool was to run through the sprinkler on the garden hose or wrap a damp face cloth around your head / neck and sit in front of a fan. I remember many Christmas Days when the temperature was over 100F (37.5C) and Mum cooked a roast dinner! I think that climate change, however, is producing more extreme weather and some greater variations in temperature.
There are obviously changes taking place with the world’s climate. It would be silly to think otherwise but unthinking people get climate and weather confused. I can tell the earth is warming by looking at how much the glaciers that I see on my travels have receeded. I don’t think that this should create panic because many of their extremes were measured in the early 1900’s which was in fact a mini ice-age. However, we should certainly be alert and sensitive to climate change and do our best to limit any increase caused by humans.
Some changes, however, are not caused by climate at all. For example the old gardening rule of growing tomatoes in Melbourne was never to plant them before the Melbourne Cup Day Holiday (first Tuesday in November). This was to prevent them being attacked by frost. We very rarely get a severe frost anymore but I think that is because Melbourne has grown into such a big suburban area that it retains it’s heat and doesn’t get so cold. Even though the city has a population of only four and a half million people, the suburban sprawl now covers over 9,900 square kilometres making it one of the largest urban areas in the world.
Well, I guess that it’s back to the air conditioner for me and a wait until this evening when it will be a little cooler and I can do a few jobs out in the garden. I do love the summer days with daylight saving time when it doesn’t get dark until a lot later.