OPINION: Be more Yorkshire - it will protect the planet - Fr Gary Waddington, Harrogate

Despite the unseasonably warm sunshine as I write, autumn is coming.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 5:14 pm
211117 Sheep shelter by a dry stone wall as pale winter sun highlights the tops of Autumn coloured trees near West Witton in Wensleydale. Countryweek.

So there’s already a certain amount of preparation.

Somewhere is the other duvet, the warmer one. And the cupboard with the thicker jumpers and scarves will soon need raiding.

The kids have been packed off back to school in a fetching array of blazers and jumpers just a tad too big: “Stop fussing – you’ll grow into it!”

And then comes the annual debate: just when is it socially acceptable to turn the central heating back on?

Now, I’m old enough to remember those glorious days before we all burned the planet with enough heating to ensure that mid-winter the temperature in the kitchen rivals that of midsummer Ibiza.

Back then, in the dark ages – or the 1970s as we call it now – you were lucky if the gas fire in the front room worked.

Autumn and winter heralded being able to scrape ice off the inside of (single glazed, unless you were really posh) windows.

God forbid you needed the loo in the middle of the night, as hypothermia would ensue unless you could get back under the flannelette sheets and scratchy wool blankets with a speed that would make Usain Bolt look tardy.

So, when can you put the heating on?

Now, I grew up in Skipton. So my native Yorkshire mind says not before November, and only at a push in October.

But the truth is, it goes on when I feel cold. Perhaps that’s the result of having lived in the south (below Barnsley) for twenty years.

So now, I try to at least make it to mid-September before a ‘just testing the boiler!’ moment arrives.

Flippant though much of this might be, there is a serious point to this. What cost our comfort?

We’ll hear more and more about COP26 as autumn progresses.

If we want to take global warming seriously – as we should – isn’t there a dawning reality that we might not, should not, take cranking up the heating as blithely as we often have?

That’s something I suspect we’re all going to have to get to grips with. After all, it’s all fine and dandy to tell your neighbours you’ve just bought a super-efficient electric car butthe moment the mercury falls, the gas boiler gets cranked up?

Perhaps that’s the really tricky question we have to face: the poor, those who live with fuel poverty, those who don’t enjoy ‘all mod cons’ aren’t the ones burning the planet.

It is the world’s wealthiest who are. For if you’re an XR protestor who turns up to the nearest rally in a gas guzzling top end four by four, isn’t there something – if you’ll forgive me – of needing to ‘practice what you preach’?

If we’re to take climate change seriously we might need to be a bit more Yorkshire, and when it’s cold, just possibly put another jumper on?