Extreme heat and buildings

During the hot weather over the last few weeks I have learned a lot about air flow in my flat. I do not deal well with hot weather and tend to wilt easily. So the really hot weather was not good for me and I spent a lot of time finding ways to keep myself and my flat cool with out much success. Eventually I bought an air cooler which helps to a certain extent.

I live in a first floor flat in a complex of blocks of flats. Mine is top flat and faces direct onto the main road with bus stops outside on both sides of the road. My block adjoins another block at right angles so our entrance gives access to 3 flats on each floor. The prevailing wind tends to come down the main road.

I tend not to open windows on the road side because of the noise and the air pollution. As the sun shines directly into my living room window from sunrise I also keep the curtains closed. The other side of my flat does not get much sun at all, the only room getting sun is the kitchen in late evening. So I keep that window open wide with an insect mesh over it to deter flies and bees entering my flat. The kitchen is probably the coolest room in the flat. The air flow through that window will enter the bedroom next to the living room but not the living room itself. I put this down to the way the doors open. Like the windows which open in different ways, only one window lets the air flow through.

The temperature in my living room, even with the air cooler on has never yet gone below 27 degrees C during the last few weeks. Earlier this year the cavity wall insulation was replaced so we would be warmer. I have read recently that we have all insulated our houses to keep us warm in the winter and left nowhere for the heat to escape in the summer. Is it time to look at how we design buildings ready for the hotter weather to come in the future? It’s not about whether our house looks nice but about whether it will do its job by keeping us warm in winter and cool in summer. There is so much that can be done to make us use less energy but people and governments are reluctant to do anything about it. I have noticed that some new build houses have solar panels but not all of them. Some years ago small wind turbines which you could put on your roof were designed and up for sale at a reasonable price but local governments refused permission for them to go on the house roof for several reason none of which seemed right. Some 20 years ago I was in New Mexico in the USA where every house had solar panels and a small wind turbine on its roof. So some can do it so why not us?

Earth’s message

Headline in my newspaper earlier this week was Earth’s message. The heat here in the UK is rather extreme and we are not used to it either. Other countries have this kind of heat and are laughing at us and the way we are dealing with it as transport fails and there is a desperate rush to buy air coolers. Our country is definitely not prepare for this kind of heat.

I have always enjoyed watching the Tour de France on my TV. This year there have been climate change protesters on the roads blocking the riders. They were moved by the police, having made their point to a certain extent. However some riders sympathised with the protesters but said they didn’t want them on their race! I have a feeling that many agree with the fact that our climate is changing and agree with the protests as long as the protests don’t affect them. Talking to others about this I get the same kind of response. As long as they are not affected it’s OK. No-one seems to realise that every one of us has to do something to change things, whether its stopping the climate from getting hotter or making less use of plastics and caring for water.

Climate scientists tell us that the world is getting hotter and have shown us on maps, how it could be by 2050. If the earth heats up as much as that then there will be little left of what we know now. Food will not be able to be grown especially if water becomes in short supply and we will need to change our diets. We are being pushed to change to a plant based diet at the moment but if it is too hot to grow plants, then what?

Water is also necessary for us to live and all the rest of the inhabitants on the earth.Some reservoirs are already dry and in some countries, some rivers have totally dried up. This is not new. I went to Spain about 15 years or so ago and the rivers were dry then and water was rationed.

Where is the forward thinking? Why do we only think about the here and now? What are you going to so, how much are you prepared to change?

Will the extreme heat and lack of water kill off this meadow?

Waking up?

Will this unusual excessive heat in the UK wake people up to the effect of changes in our climate? I doubt it but you never know. There are too many promises made by those in power but none of the promises are kept. But it is not just humans who suffer when there is excessive heat.

High temperatures above normal cause a lot of distress to our natural world. Every living thing needs water and when there are high temperatures there is often a lack of rain. So the grass is scorched and the plants are wilting and the leaves falling from the trees. But the living animals and insects also need water especially when it is very hot. I watched a butterfly dipping into the water on a lake earlier this week. Hedgehogs, birds and all other animals need water left out for them. Birds love to bathe in the water too and watching them in the past has given me a lot of joy.

There is a wildflower patch where I live but getting water to it is extremely difficult and there has been no rain for several weeks now. I am hoping to get my son to help me with a water hose next week so we can try to save all the plants that are there. I am managing to water my own bit of garden with a watering can carrying two of them on my walker/rollator thing.

But extreme heat cause lots of other problems too. We humans don’t cope with it well especially the older ones like me. Keeping cool is not easy to do in an upstairs flat even if you keep the windows closed as advised to do. But the road outside and parts of the pavement are melting in the heat which causes other problems. Rail lines buckle as do other things like a slat on one of our wooden benches.

So is all of this going to make people think about what we do in our daily life and ask questions about how we live and are going to live? Extreme heat causes crops to fail so no food and so on. Are we in a similar situation as is said in this American Indian prophecy ‘Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money‘.?