let's talk global warming. No, I'm not talking about any weedy
three degrees Celsius rise per century stuff. I'm talking London
has the mean temperature of a pottery kiln over the course of a few
How does this happen? Any of a number of things, really. A
new star appears in the sky like a cosmic heat lamp, a planet plunges
into the Sun and amps up the output or, and this was a favourite in
the '50s, atmospheric nuclear tests were to blame. Though,
oddly, after the West stopped above ground tests in the '60s, no one
seemed too worried when the Red Chinese kept popping them off in the
Gobi like it was Chinese New Year.
But the most graphic prediction came from the Ban the Bomb parable
The Day the Earth Caught Fire
(1961), in which the United States
and the Soviet Union accidentally detonate a pair of hydrogen bombs at
opposite ends of the globe and send the Earth spiralling towards the
Sun. At first seeming like an unusually warm summer with the odd
freakish fog and wind storm, the weather soon settles down to a
relentless baking tin sort of heat that one only experiences these
days while waiting for someone in a shopping centre car park in July.
Water is rationed, typhoid breaks out, amusement park rides close, and
beatniks roam the streets at night playing trumpets. Eventually
it gets so bad that the film goes all sepia and the screenwriter
collapses from heat prostration.