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Posted on 1st April 2022
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This article on the BBC reports about how the UK government has redefined what constitutes a heatwave, in 8 counties, raising the temperature limit by 1°C.
The rationale given by The Met Office is that the limit is based on historical temperatures, and because of global warming, high temperatures have become more normal, and declaring a heatwave should require higher temperatures. I am not buying into this explanation.
The question that needs to be asked is "What is the purpose of declaring or forecasting a heatwave?" If it is simply to mark the event in some list of temperature records, then fine; if the purpose is for the protection of health, then the rational makes no sense. People did not become more tolerant of high temperatures just because we have had more of them recently, and still need to be warned to avoid going out during the hottest times of day, to drink plenty of water (and to take water with them when they go out), to dress appropriately for the weather, to not leave their pets or children locked in cars, etc.
High temperatures have effects not only on people, but also on equipment (trains, motor vehicles, freezers, refrigerators, manufacturing equipment, computers and office air conditioning), and the temperature limits of such equipment have not magically increased simply because the government has changed its definition of what it considers a heatwave. Where is the government sponsored initiative to make such equipment more tolerant of high temperatures?
This sounds like the government using the added flexibility that it now has after Brexit, to set health related standards as it finds convenient, to avoid inconvenient and costly impacts of hot weather, such as school and office closures. I haven't read of any similar changes to the definitions of a heatwave within the EU, nor do I expect to. When will UK voters realise that their government simply doesn't care about them?