Thursday 08 December 2022

I’m really sorry about all the sun

Photo: Depositphotos

Want someone to blame for the unending waves of heat this summer, even though it has now turned cooler? Our regular columnist Molly Quell has a confession to make.

I have to apologise.

I cursed us. In May, I wrote that I had been so deeply assimilated by the Dutch that I had started enjoying the sun. Not just enjoying it, but basking in it.

‘Considering how little sunshine the Netherlands gets on average, it’s no surprise that every place I had lived previously got more. Living my life with an overabundance of sunlight and under-abundance of sun tolerance left me unimpressed by the few sunny days this country gets a year.’

The hubris.

This summer we’ve been pelted with heatwave after heatwave, drought and temperature records dropping like overheated tourists who had a few too many at the pub last night but also had timed tickets for the Anne Frank House this morning.

The whole climate change thing isn’t new of course. Dutch News ran this headline in 2018: This summer has been the warmest in 300 years and then in 2019, this one: It has never been hotter since records began.

Recent years have seen the warmest Budget Day on record, the hottest August 25, even the warmest New Years’ Eve.

In fact, on May 16th, the day my love letter to the sun was published, the Netherlands officially entered summer. Temperatures hit 25 degrees.

To top off the warm weather of Amsterdam, where I’ve spent the summer, I also had two weeks of vacation in southern Europe and a week in Turkey. At this point, I’m considering asking Santa if I can rent a room at the North Pole. The gas bill will be unimaginable but at least I won’t need to shower three times a day.

As we are all well aware, this isn’t over. Infrastructure in this country wasn’t designed to counteract this type of heat. The houses were designed to keep warm, not cool. And the people who live where aren’t, for the most part, adapted to hotter temperatures.

As a boring adult homeowner in my 30s, most of my conversations this summer have centered around creative and affordable ways to cool my living space: heat-reflecting curtains, better insulation, and window foils that block the sun.

My husband and I have been debating the ethics of air-conditioning. Those portable units are horrid for the environment, only making this problem worse, but also I spent several sleepless nights with a dog who couldn’t stop panting.

And seeing what our energy bills are going to be this winter, we’ve started to wonder if we should sell the cute 1930s house that we love and buy something newly built, with a A+++++ energy rating.

There was a brief period of time this summer where I enjoyed those warm rays but, now, I have had enough. And we have just had the coldest September 18 on record.

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