Heatwave [en]

It’s 9am, Sunday morning. I’m back in my flat to check the temperature. It’s creeping up already. I close everything up and shed a tear.

I got the temperature under 27°C this morning. Downstairs, in the coworking space I’m lucky to be able to hang out in, it’s nearly 1°C cooler, but also rising. At 8:30, it was already too hot to have breakfast on my balcony, like I usually do.

Lausanne is hardly the worst-hit place. I guess the lake helps a bit. Other parts of the country are suffering way worse. France, Spain… India of course.

I’ve dealt with worse heat than now when I was in India, of course. But buildings here aren’t designed for heat. My flat covers the south side of the building. Even at night when the temperature goes down (not that far down) the walls are still packed with heat they ate up during the day. The bathroom downstairs is close to 30°, though it’s on the inside of the building, because it shares a wall with the heating room.

The heating room is an oven. Now I understand (maybe) why in India we just heat the water we need when we need it, instead of having permanent hot water running around in the taps. But that’s not all of it: a few days ago I realised the radiators weren’t cold. I’d turned of the central thermostat, but clearly, the central heating was still keeping them warm. I turned them all off manually, of course, but WTF. Shouldn’t central heating be turned off in June when we already had troublesome heat in May? SMH.

I remember my first real heatwave here, back in 2003. I was writing (dictating) my dissertation. I was living and sleeping on my balcony. It was exciting.

For a few years now, we’ve had these “exceptional heatwaves” every summer. They are not exciting at all now. It’s clear they are not going away. I bought a portable A/C two years ago. I have a bunch of fans. I’m seriously thinking about putting up a ceiling fan in my bedroom. I’m wondering if heat will drive me up in the mountains ten, fifteen years from now. The fact that this will not get better is sinking in.

Until recently, I’d managed to not feel too panicky about climate change. Not that I was in denial that it was happening, but rather that I had other stuff to get worked up about. I know that solutions to a global problem like this are not individual but collective, and there are people fighting the fight. But it’s not working. I read an opinion piece the other day that actually helped me understand Extinction Rebellion – particularly the “unauthorised demonstration” part that I previously looked upon rather disapprovingly. Governments and institutions need public pressure to prioritise climate change. It’s sad, but that’s how it is. Those whose interests do not go in the direction of protecting the environment have their own ways of putting pressure on governments, and they are not shy of using them.

So today, as I closed the windows in my flat to keep the heat out, some of the hope I used to have rolled down my cheeks.