Record cold, record heat, record rainfall, record high winds – is this a new phenomenon, triggered by global warming? In the past 20 years I have lived in both southern France and southern England. In the land of milk and honey, the south of France, surrounded by olive groves, it snowed nearly every year. Every year people acted like this had never happened before, that it NEVER snowed there. In the summer, in late July and August, there were nearly always a few days when it was hotter than it had ever been. Or it was the worst drought of all time, or too much rain at the wrong time so the fruit crops were ruined. The locals, people whose ancestors were buried in the ancient cemetery behind the church, were more pessimistic doom-sayers than the ex- pats and second homers. They come to the south of France to find sun and glamour, and complain when it is hotter, grayer, or colder than their expectations. Maybe the locals want to drive them away.

Now that I live in England, the same thing happens. Floods, every year, from “record” rainfall. Extraordinary cold spells, like now, or no real summer, all come with much shaking of heads and concerned tones. Mind you, I’ve only lived in England for 3 years, as opposed to 14 in France, so I can’t make a definitive judgment as to the consistency of these anomalous weather events. It is obvious, though, that Great Britain is surrounded by oceans, nearly as far north as Sweden, and close to the vagaries of the wind, sea, and temperatures. You plan a garden party in the summer with great caution and daily consultation with the weather Gods. The supplying of canopies and tents is a booming business here.

Where it the truth? Only in official weather statistics, I am sure. Observations of weather are mostly subjective wherever you live, seemingly based more on expectation, wishful thinking and whatever it is in we humans that wants to exaggerate to enhance our self-importance.