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  • Writer's picturechris walsh

The heat is on

Here in the Cevennes in the South of France it is searing hot. AT least it is not as bad as in the plains elsewhere, so we reached the maximum of 40 degrees the last 2 days while it has been 40 + in Nimes, Ales and around the Rhone.

In Spain, Italy and Greece temperatures have even topped 45, which is unsupportable.

We are lucky to be in the hills in the middle of forests, with rivers nearby, all of which makes the temperature more bearable.

There is now at last a realisation that we are in transition to a hot and unpredictable climate, this is not a one off and so we need to start researching, discussing and agreeing what can be done to mitigate this now.

Here the problem is water, how to conserve it, how to keep it pure and clean and how best to use it. At present when i take the dog for a walk by the river the heat has turned the algae - poisoned by agricultural run offs, pesticides etc- has turned the river water into something potentially dangerous, as dogs have died after drinking a lot. I have had to stop my dog jumping in and swimming in it to cool off. At the start of the river walk in our little town there is a bit of the river diverted into a side space where the water is now blocked by algae , the water is stagnant and gives off a horrible smell. We need to start campaigning to save and protect our water and to agree ways grey water can be used on farms but using biologically clean chemicals and change what is grown to be more heat resistant and need less water. That means changing from the main crop of sweet onions, which has to be discussed with farmers to find growing solutions that are not more expensive to them, are bio and the crops earn them the same amount as now. This will take time, but we don't have much of it.

The next problem is the possibility of fires, which so far have not this year really taken hold here, though there have been outbreaks 80 + kilometers away. The protection needed means less open tourism, with controls over any form of fires, dropping litter or glass and sticking to formal paths, more firebreaks and us to start clearing the shrubbery from the ground as they spread fire quicker than the trees. There is a hose pipe ban and the car washes are now closed. Soon the private swimming pools will be likely closed, gardens allowed only to be watered by cans and golf courses must surely be closed.

Our lifestyle now centres around staying indoors, as cool as possible during the hours of 12 to 6. The government gives subsidies to owner occupiers ( which unfortunately we are not) to insulate roofs and walls, introduce double glazing, plus support for solar panels and heat pumps to be installed. For renters and second home owners ( we rent from our English based son) there is no subsidy. The electricity bills are already large but not helped by the need for fans and portable air cons, but so far it is bearable inside and is actually quite pleasant in the mornings and evenings.

As older residents who are also trying to be green we want to become active in developing local green intiatives but it is hard work getting people to start to take collective actions needed. Luckily there are a lot of artisanal and bio workers and young hippies who are beginning to show alternatives and to influence local councils, but it is all slowly slowly while the heating is moving up faster and faster

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