Excerpts from our latest publication
From the minister
It’s 29 degrees outside, and the view from my window reveals a horde of citizens who look as
if they just came off the beach at Marbella. Shorts, unflattering tops and flip flops usually consigned
to the holiday clothing section of the wardrobe. Hats designed for the Australian Outback or the
karaoke night at the Torremolinos hotel. It’s hot for Britain, and no mistake.
I grew up in Florida, where every summer day touched 100 degrees. I don’t think we were
aware of its being particularly hot. It was just the way things were. Mosquitoes died against the
screened windows, and the fans turned constantly. When I was twelve, my parents bought a newfangled
window air conditioning unit and put it in their bedroom. We three siblings would go in and
sit on the floor, enjoying the arctic blast from the vents. I believe that was the first time I realised
that it was hot outside.
Since then, I have lived in three tropical and sub-tropical countries, and eight years in
Southern Spain. One Christmas in Botswana, the house we lived in got so warm that the whole
family — three of us — slept on our pickup truck. I was once in Delhi, when the mercury touched 115.
That was hot.
When I lived in an Andalusian village house, I learned that a dwelling was actually a machine
to keep out that very thing that tourists make expensive annual pilgrimages to find: the sun. Shutters
and blinds are employed in different ways at different times of day. But the goal is to keep solar heat
from making sleep impossible.
In all those places, a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius would have felt cool, or at least not
unpleasant. Gilly and I returned to our flat on the coast of Spain one Christmas day in time for the
Queen’s Speech. The time and temperature clock on the corner said it was 31. It was fine, with a nice
breeze from the sea.
Then why am I sweating and swearing on a day like this? Either I have lost my natural
thermostat due to age or custom, or heat in Britain is worse than heat in Africa.
In the heat wave of 2003, more than 14,000 people in France died — mostly the elderly. It
seems that having a basically agreeable climate makes you more vulnerable when heat strikes. And
because of the status quo, houses are built to withstand cold — not heat. I have been shocked to learn
that most people don’t even open the hatch to their lofts when it gets hot, something any school kid
in warm climates knows. It lets the lighter warm air rise and the cooler air fall into your living space.
And people throw open their curtains and blinds to “let the light in”, without being aware that they
are all but guaranteeing a sweaty night.
We are told that the climate is warming. Mostly, we just switch channels when some scientist
comes on to remind us of this. But last year was the hottest on record, and this one is shaping up to
beat that. We know we need to pay attention, but… it all seems so hopeless.
By the time you read this, the temperature may be back to its usual kindly level. We will
forget having to change shirts twice a day. But we know that the heat outside — now and in future — is
more than an inconvenience.
It’s a warning.
- Art Lester
There are two days in the week upon which and about which I never worry -- two
carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday.
Yesterday, with its cares and frets and pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders,
has passed forever beyond my recall. It was mine; it is God's.
The other day that I do not worry about is Tomorrow. Tomorrow, with all its possible
adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its failures and mistakes, is
as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, Yesterday. Tomorrow is God's day; it will be mine.
There is left, then, for myself but one day in the week - Today. Any man can fight the
battles of today. Any woman can carry the burdens of just one day; any man can resist the
temptation of today. It is only when we willfully add the burdens of these two awful eternities -
Yesterday and Tomorrow - such burdens as only the Mighty God can sustain - that we break
It isn't the experience of Today that drives men mad. It is the remorse of what happened
Yesterday and fear of what Tomorrow might bring. These are God's Days ... Leave them to Him.
-- Robert J. Burdette