Twitter, Facebook and the bloke in the pub are waxing lyrical about how rubbish the UK is when it comes to snow. “It’s only a few flakes!” they cry. “Why does everything grind to a halt?” they complain. “Look at Canada – they cope with several feet of snow for weeks on end, and nothing stops!” they proclaim.
Well, yes. Of course they do. They have feet of snow every year, as do parts of northern Europe, North America and the Far East. They’re used to it. Their entire infrastructure is built around coping with large amounts of snow. Their populations know exactly how to prepare for the coming of snow, and how to perambulate and drive through it when it arrives. They all have snow shoes and snow chains, and it’s a way of life for them.
The UK, in contrast, hardly ever gets significant quantities of snow. Scotland and the higher areas of England and Wales do get more snow, and those areas cope pretty well. But they’re remote, and infrastructure is generally not affected. When populated, urban areas get blanketed, of course it causes disruption. We’re not set up to deal with it! Generally, we cope pretty well.
By altering the way we do things slightly – like not travelling unless it’s absolutely necessary – the world doesn’t have to stop. In this age of technology, there is no reason why many office-based jobs can’t be done from home in poor weather, but this requires an attitude shift from senior management…
“But why don’t we set up our infrastructure to cope with heavy snow?” I can almost hear the wails from the legions of Daily Mail readers. The answer is simple: it would cost an enormous amount of money, and it wouldn’t be worth it. Not for our winters. Countries like Canada have built their economies and services around their climate; we haven’t. Unless our climate changes and we begin to have regular harsh winters like they do, it just isn’t worth it.
We’d do far better to alter our working practices where we can, and adjust our driving to the weather conditions (something surprisingly few people do). But having a good old moan about how rubbish Britain is, is one of our national pastimes, so I guess that will carry on. People really should stop panic buying everything though. It’s probably not going to be that bad in most places. And I need to do my normal shop tomorrow…
Anyway: stuff this. I’m going out to build a snowman. Did I mention that I LOVE snow?