First published in the student newspaper UNIfied in Decemeber 2011, this article was written as a response to the speculation of snow coming to UK that was doing the rounds at the time. Amusingly, it didn’t snow until the last week the December 2011 edition of UNIfied was available.
I’m writing this a month, at the earliest, before you will read this. Therefore, I don’t know if it did snow, didn’t snow, is about to snow, or is snowing. Hell, for all I know, we could be in the middle of a new ice age.
But if it did snow, I can guess what happened. Britain is known for having particular problems with just about any type of snow, judging by the fact everything annually shuts down because of it. The minute its starts snowing, all the news channels will change their headline stories from whatever social, international or financial quagmire that’s affecting the world that day to stories of school closures, grit shortages and planes being grounded. All in-between enough footage of people slipping over to make you think that Britain is now one massive episode of You’ve Been Framed.
So why does this happen every year? Well, the problem seems to be thanks to whatever form of climate change we’re experiencing, our winters are getting harsher. Think about this: When I was little and growing up in Sussex, you would be lucky to have snow last for a few hours or maybe, just maybe, a day. Once upon a time, my old secondary school never shut its doors on a snow day, even if trying to do the school run was suicidal. Now, it shuts down every time the snow arrives.
That tells me that Britain, historically, isn’t prepared for this sort of thing. In the 20th century, there were seven white Christmases in London. Most people don’t think to prepare for something that has a 6% chance of happening. There is a 1 in 14 million chance of me winning the Lotto’s Jackpot, but I don’t prepare for life as a multi-billionaire.
That’s why we don’t get enough grit stored or have even enough snow ploughs. In this time of everyone from central government to town councils having to make harsh cuts, the public would moan endlessly if whatever form of government were to spend the money on something that for most of the year doesn’t get used and even then might not get used for years on end. Think about how many potholes could be filled in using that sort of money. Do you want a safe street all year round or once in a year?
That’s the particular problem of British snow: No one seems prepared for it. And with a strong case for climate change going to make our winters a lot worse, I believe we are obviously going to need to, somehow, find a solution to it.