I'm back home, recovering from jet lag. And it's summer.
Summer in Edinburgh means: I have my office window open, overlooking the rumbling traffic and the street chatter and the occasional raucous discussion outside the pub on the other side of the street twelve metres below me. It's pleasantly warm, with a daytime temperature in the range 17-20 degrees, dipping to 12-14 degrees at night. (Anything over 24 degrees is a heat wave.) Humidity is 60-70%.
Last week, in Montreal, summer meant keeping the hotel room window curtained and shut, with the air conditioning on full blast: outdoors it was 27-35 degrees, with 70-80% humidity. A good ten degrees celsius hotter than it is here.
I didn't like that much. (Confession time: I moved to Edinburgh when I found summer in London to be unpleasantly hot. I can cope with warm weather as long as I've got a cold place to retreat to, but after two months in which the temperature in my apartment never went below 25 degrees at night, I gave up on London for good.)
Anyway — waving an obligatory finger at the inaccuracy of long range climate models — it looks like by the end of the century global average temperatures are going to be up by somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees. Assuming that the local consequences don't include shutting down the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation, Edinburgh in summer will feel more like Montreal. Even with the postulated shutdown, summer's going to be no cooler than it is today (but winter would be a good bit chillier).
There are productive vineyards in Yorkshire these days. Meanwhile, the Boredeaux and Rioja vineyards are under threat as the vine-growing temperature zones move north. (To put a fictional hook on it: the late 21st century natives of England will sell wine to France to pay for the imported nuclear-generated electricity that spins their air conditioners — assuming they're not devastated by tornados, which are already showing up with increasing frequency as hotter summers pump more energy into the atmosphere.)
As for Montreal? Think in terms of regular 40-45 degree summers. That's not going to be fun at all. But it's going to be better there than in the vicinity of Sydney (destined for routine 45-55 degree summers — the kind of heat that kills) or just about anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
(Postscript: to those of you who want to quibble over whether current climate change is anthropogenic in origin, I ask this question: if you wake up in the night and smell smoke, do you think to yourself, "oh, it's just a nearby lightning strike/bush fire — that's perfectly natural" and go back to sleep? Or do you get out of bed and do something about it anyway? To my mind it doesn't matter why climate change is happening, except insofar as it might affect our choice of technologies for remediation work — whether or not it's induced by human activities, we ignore it at our peril.)