Keith Wheeler’s Wheeler’s Wisdom | OPINION

BRITAIN and most of Europe has just emerged from the ice. At least 10 people died or were killed as a result of the freezing weather, said to be the worst since 1991.

Saddest story was the case of the 60-year-old grandfather who died while chasing his dog onto a shallow frozen lake. He slipped through the ice.

The good news is that his dog was rescued.

A seven-year-old girl was hit by a car sliding in the ice. Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk of Devon and Cornwall Police highlighted the tragedy as a warning for motorists to stay off the roads due to the appalling weather.

Pictures on The Daily Mail website showed road conditions that we could not imagine in Australia.  

A carer who became ill on her way to work was found dead in the snow. 

A 75-year-old woman was found dead underneath a parked car with the temperature at minus six degrees.

A 53-year-old homeless man who had been living in a tent between a wall and an old church hall was found dead.

And so the tragedies went on.

So disrupted were the roads that South Central Ambulance Service appealed for four wheel drive owners to help move its staff around in the severe conditions. In Greater Manchester, hundreds of drivers spent the night stuck on the M62, with police warning wind speeds had reached 90m/h. They still talk in miles in Britain, but 90m/h is 144km/h - very severe in anyone’s language!

Blizzards and drifting snow caused havoc on the railways too. Passengers were stranded overnight on a train in Dorset that reportedly had no heating. Battery power ran out, so no electricity, and presumably toilets not working.

A train was stopped outside Southampton for eight hours. Frozen points, and ice on transmission lines was stopping trains all over the country. The Southampton driver "arranged limited supplies of water in the night and a short while ago offered a free hot drink", but nothing was said about food!

Being caged in a commuter train all night in freezing conditions sounds to me to be as bad as it gets. And what about those passengers who need regular medication?

According to The Daily Mail, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the weather as “exceptional circumstances” for the UK and said that people stranded on roads and trains had had a “tough night”. The army was called in to help in hospitals.

Military heavy vehicles helped stranded cars on highways.

Frozen water mains have burst all over Britain, leaving some places without water for days.

Next time you hear excited exaggerations about record temperatures, ask what is really happening.

The “hottest day on record” for Penrith actually meant the hottest day since records started there in 1995! Nearby Richmond showed that 1939 was worse.

Freezing temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are becoming more common. When I was studying geography at university, “global cooling” was being discussed. After 1940 temperatures had been cooler than the period to 1939.

After the 1940-1976 period, temperatures began to rise again, so is the so-called global warming just a natural fluctuation?

The possibility of a new cooling phase would bring not just road and rail havoc, but deaths, crop failures, and starvation. Let’s enjoy the warm weather while we can.