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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Weather permitting.

This last couple of weeks have been a bit of a giggle weather wise, and especially the way the media here and in the UK have been laying it on. One headline on the UK Telegraph's website read "Deadly Heatwave Causes Havoc Across Australia"... really? What, all of Australia? Have you the first fucking clue how big this place is? It takes over a week to drive across it or a five hour flight. If we towed it into the North Atlantic you could get to New York with a few ferry crossings. It's a bloody continent you knobbers. Of course I do realize that you knew this all along because when I clicked it to read the story of how 3 million square miles was all suffering the same heatwave the headline became "Deadly Heatwave Causes Havoc Across South Eastern Australia", or just the bottom right hand corner in other words.

Now don't get me wrong, it was bloody hot in Melbourne and we spent most of the week wishing we had aircon. But look, Australia is a hot place and while this hasn't happened since 1908 (or at least that was the oldest date mentioned in any article I read) it's not fucking unprecedented. It's not like we've been having to walk without rhythm to avoid the Gippsland worms. Yes, since it affected a decent chunk of both Victoria and South Australia it did affect a big area - roughly UK sized at a guess. But again, why the shock? More to the point why did it cause havoc? The fact that it's happened before means that there's always the chance it might happen again, so a little bit of preparation might have been in order, yes? As it happens I personally saw little evidence of all this havoc. Bush fires yes, but they're a fact of life here and living with it should be much the same as moving to San Francisco and accepting the fact that it gets earthquakes. They could have been particularly nasty last week, and I suppose there still might be some really disastrous fires along these lines before the summer's out, but again it's not unprecedented. There were some power shortages too, which I might have found a lot more annoying if I had been relying on aircon to cool the house. And the Southern Star, which is kind of like the London Eye but smaller and less well located, was broken by the heat. Again, it appears someone forgot that it can get hot here and didn't build the bastard with enough margin for that. Hilariously, it had been open for about a month and needless to say it cost a fucking fortune to build and will cost another fortune yet to be estimated to fix the fucking thing again. I do hope the taxpayer isn't going to be asked to contribute to putting the legs back on the white elephant, but beyond that I really don't care. Other than that there were some people who succumbed to the heat, which I'm sure happens every year but generally won't be reported in the UK meeejah, and the Australian Open had some extra sweaty tennis players and, horror of horrors, the roof had to be shut. This apparently caused some small controversy but I can't really understand why you'd build a tennis arena with a closing roof if you weren't happy with the idea of shutting it now and again. But I imagine it was the Open and the minds of some fat hacks in London having thought wanks over Maria Sharapova's tits - ooooh it's so hot I'm going to take my top off - that got it into the papers there at all. In Australia's top end there are only two seasons, wet and dry. Hot weather is a given, and you can bet people suffer from it and probably die of it occasionally. Not even slightly newsworthy, but I couldn't help but notice on the same page as the "deadly heatwave" story there was a sponsored feature link encouraging tourists to visit the Northern Territory*, where it's hot as fuck year round, on the back of a shithouse film with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in it.

Exchanging heatwaves for cold snaps and south east Australia for south east England it was with a certain amount of embarrassment that I read in the paper here about the heavy snow lying in drifts yards deep few inches of snow that has paralyzed the capital of a major western nation. Jesus Christ, the Canadians must be pissing themselves. Not just the Canadians either - I might be completely mistaken but I can't imagine Moscow grinds to a halt every time there's few inches of snow. And as The Age says, it's the worst snowfall for - wait for it - 18 years. So again, not unprecedented and not even a distant memory handed down a couple of generations. It was the beginning of the last decade for Christ's sake. And I'm pretty sure I can remember worse snow than that when I was a kid, which wasn't that long ago. Okay, obviously a few things have changed since then. For one thing it seems that like nearly all displays of individual initiative in the UK these days chucking a bit of grit on the ground yourself is verboten. Well, you might miss a bit and get sued if anyone slips or skids on the grit free section. For another it seems half the public sector is stopping at home until the thaw, which doesn't seem to be making them many friends. And of course it's soooo dangerous for the kiddies (won't someone think of the children?). For fuck's sake! What's gone wrong with the bloody country that a little bit of fucking sub zero water can bring it to its knees? I'd be embarrassed to walk around outside except that any Aussie taking the piss out of the British inability to cope with weather is just asking for me to bring up the Olympics and take a nice long piss into that emotional open wound.

Still, with Earth Hour looming again it's a timely reminder that both this not unprecedented heatwave here in south east Australia and the not unprecedented snow in the UK are clear signs of global warming... but then again isn't everything?

UPDATE:Well, I said it might get worse and it did. Still not unprecedented and not even as bad as 1983 from what people who experienced that tell me. But still pretty grim if your house has just burned down or you've lost someone to the fires. Can't help noticing that the UK Telegraph still can't decide if the fires are the worst ever, one of the worst in memory or what, but makes a big deal of a 10,000 hectare fire. Shame the slack journos missed the bit about the 30,000 ha burning away near Churchill, a couple of hours or so the east of Melbourne, and the 57,000 ha fire near Murrindindi to the north east. It's only on the web for anyone to look up.

UPDATE: Ok, now it's time for the superlatives and breathless journalism. The shit has well and truly hit the fan, not helped by some complete cunts. Apparently the maximum for deliberately starting a bush fire is 25 years. Enough? Not sure.

*And you should go and visit the Northern Territory even though it's hot as fuck because it's also pretty spectacular. May and June aren't too bad.
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