May 2024. Getting Hot Under The Collar


As an alien adventurer in Italy, albeit not a swashbuckling one, I cannot say I abandoned my homeland due to the weather. Well, not entirely! It would be disingenuous to say the notion did not pass my mind, given the long and hot summer holidays I happily spent there. Perhaps it would be honest to say, history and art had a great deal more to do with it, though soaking up a little more sun added to its attraction. So, when retirement was thrust upon me, my wife and I decided a roll of the dice wasn’t necessary, but a new start with more than a touch of excitement, might be the answer, and longer, hot lazy Italian summers, could certainly be said to fit the bill. I didn’t, for a moment, consider that the dreaded Net Zero would raise its ugly head in such a warm, faraway place. Only time was to tell how the Italians managed this manifestly dubious concept.

The direction of travel in the UK looked catastrophic before our move, and seems not to have improved since! Sunak’s infamous regulation on heat pumps, where he tried his best to follow the rules of the Net Zero clique, proved a catastrophe in the making. His whimpish genuflection to the terrible cost piled on to the mass of society has probably a lot to do with his terrible poll ratings. The Government seems not to be aware of the heinous cost they are trying to foist on an already financially stressed society. Not many will be able to eulogise on the virtue of heat pumps and electric cars, when possibly, in the region 80% of the population, will not. And that, might I add, includes quite a few tucked up in Italy!

But there is a modicum of sense beginning to percolate through the energy business, if not through the political establishment, as reality dawns on its manufacturers. BP’s head of low carbon energy stated that the US off shore wind sector was “fundamentally broken” after a 540-million-dollar devaluation of such projects, so Biden has sensibly toned down his stance on the narrative with an election drawing near! The UK, questionably, still seems content to build windmills at approximately 2.5 million pounds each, and rely on the wind giving them a very unreliable puff!

On the other hand, such things in Italy are just about to pick up steam. Albeit with a struggle. It has diverted its needs for natural gas from Russia by switching to Algeria, and is seemingly not wedded to any extremist attitude for the future. Meloni is apparently not interested in climate change, and is known to consistently vote against EU environmental issues. Her motive is that of pragmatism, “it has to be doable and realistic.” Now there’s intelligence for you. Naturally, Italy has climate goals due to EU targets, but it is interesting to note that it has chosen to keep in hand, after the seemingly compulsory 2050 target, 8% of fossil fuels for unexpected events. Thank God one leader has the imagination to buck the system, and understand the financial penalty that is being piled onto their nation!

However, back to my musing. Lazing under the pergola, out of the sun, a notion passed my mind that all these climate pundits, who blame mankind for messing up the planet, were choosing to avoid a quite obvious factor of the red-hot planet above us called the sun. No. They were obstinately sure that human beings were the reason for a catastrophe lying just round the corner! We were definitely the problem, with our motor cars, and all those other helpful aspects of technology. Let alone there being too many of us! But they seem not to consider, or just as likely, ignore, our true physical relation to the sun. It has long been known that the direction of its axis controls our winter and summer, but less known that our actual distance from the sun also changes, and is reckoned to be closest during 2024 before, once more, getting further away. This oscillation is called “the aphelion”. Thus, the summers get warmer before getting cooler again.

Adjusting my sun glasses I considered the great ball of fire passing across my horizon and the interesting chapter in the book I’d been reading. Some prescient scientists seem to have estimated that it will take many centuries to stop climate change, and if we were all swept off the earth, in one hundred years with no human activity, the climate would still be slightly above normal! Scientists are wonderful! They seem to have established that the earths temperature has warmed about 1.1°C since 1850. It also seemed very lethargic in Italy.

                                                            1998 - 61.8 F

                                                            2018 - 60.83 F

                                                            2023 - 61.00 F

An average of a very pleasant 61.21 F. I reckon I can cope with that!

But the real point of the argument, it seemed to me, centred on what is our actual distance from the sun? And if it fluctuates, then so must the temperature on earth, in much the same way as moving one’s palm closer or further away from a candle flame. Apparently, the sun is getting hotter - 10% every billion years - not exactly something to worry us. However, it also cools every now and again, going through what the scientists term, a low activity cycle. That, on the other hand, is no small matter. The last such activity took place in the 17th century causing a mini-ice age. Since then, temperature has seemingly increased at an average rate of 0.11F per decade. If that is so, then the temperature on earth may have even less to do with man than the aphelion mentioned earlier. It’s not us Gov’!

I leave the sceptical to ponder on that one, and where will it end? I closed the book.

Alright. I took a last peek. In five billion years the sun will have exhausted its hydrogen fuel, expand, consuming the inner planets - including possibly earth - then cool, and shrink into a ‘white dwarf’, before fading from view.

Roll on Elon Musk!