Hot in the shade

Madrid is hot. People here say “be thankful you’re not in Sevilla.” I still have a headache from yesterday’s sun. I’ve never had a too-much-sun headache. But it is really hot here. I should break down and trade my headache for a little unsightly hat hair…but no.

I often think people who talk about the weather and traffic have nothing else of greater interest on their mind. (Talking about the weather and traffic in Seattle is tiresome.) But here in the lofty and over-heated interior of Spain, even people with plenty to say are talking weather these days. I can’t believe I am assessing restaurants by their air-conditioning. People who don’t have air-con are going to movies just to get a break from the heat. Poor locals, refugees from the heat, lay like lizards in the shade.

Maybe Americans who really believe there’s no climate change going on aren’t motivated by their economic self-interest. But I believe many deny the existence of global warming because it’s not good for the economy (in the short term) to deal with it. (That was, after all, the official US rationale for opting out of the Kyoto Accords.) Assuming the engines of the First World economies are driving global warming, any industrialist (or person holding their stock) sitting in air-con splendor while the poor world is getting the brunt of their greed is somewhere between wrong and evil. Many of these people (who have no idea what living poor in the sweltering developing world is like) can’t even consume what they have. What drives them? Call me a liberal, but I’m steaming like the rest of the world.

(Of course, me promoting air travel contributes to airplane emissions which add to the greenhouse problems. My goal this coming season is to find a creative way travelers can contribute to forests enough to negate their personal contribution to this inconvenient truth.)

Things are so hot in Spain that they’ve moved the times of bullfights two hours later…to 9pm…no more sun and shade tickets. Everything’s the same–hot in the shade…and I believe that’s where we’re all heading. (For the sake of those who follow us, this topic deserves thoughtful and respectful discourse.)


52 Replies to “Hot in the shade”

  1. We have our share of HEAT WAVE here in California. We had 10 straight days of triple digits temperature. It was very unbearable to say the least. We went into Stage 2 rolling black out. Years ago, scientists across the globe had been warning citizens of this planet about green house effect, ozone layer is getting thinner. But the politicians/governments did not take it too seriously, now we are facing the consequences–global worming, our children and their children will be suffering…..
    Go see Al Gore’s documentary— An Inconvienent Truth, hope it is showing in Europe.

  2. Its a similar story in Seattle…we have finally cooled down from mid 90’s to mid 70’s. No rolling blackouts yet but I am sure that will happen as well. I remember taking the environmental course at WSU in the late 1960’s….much of what was predicted has regrettably come to pass….

  3. How come there are other scientist who disagree with the global warming. I just don’t agree with your comments.

  4. Of course “some scientists” disagree about glorbal warming. Some scientists in the Third Reich thought Jews were subhuman. Some scientists today think certain minorites are genetically inferior. Some scientists believe in UFOs and bigfoot. I tend to think, as Rick says, this warming trend will continue as time goes on, and if it does, denying global warming will become harder and harder. Of course, a few always will–I’m sure there are some scientists even today who secretly believe in the validity of the abominable experiments carried out by the Nazis…they just keep quiet about it. What will be more interesting, in my view, is how many people, both scientists and layfolks, who will someday, when temperatures have been high for a very long time, deny they ever voiced skepticism about global warming in the first place. Their memories will fail them, or they will re-write history, and claim they were never doubters.

    The human mind is remarkable that way.

  5. I tend to think that Rick’s experiment in Spain is a good one to watch. I’ll be going to Brussels/Neth. with my 2 kids next summer, but DH and all will go to Spain, Italy, and France together the year after. I need to know these things.
    BTW, not a great show so far; heat can have a devistating effect on a family trip, esp with young kids! Yikes!
    Thanks, Rick for the info.

  6. After reading the over-heated ranting and raving and name calling on several more-or-less mainstream blogs, I am very impressed with the (usually) civil tone used by commentors on Rick’s blog. It is a refreshing difference. Thanks to all.

  7. Interesting to Thomas Friedman, the World is flat. Honestly, I can not remember names of those who have disagreed with the global warming issue. I recall watching a program that discussed this topic and as some one above posted, the World goes through cycles. The program spent a lot of time discussing the temp. of the oceans and they had a lot of benchmarking showing that the raise has been very min.

    I am not an expert and would guess that many of us posting here are not experts as well. We follow what we read, see and believe. I do agree that we need to do something to reduce the use of energy and keep our Flat World cleaner. Some times I am not sure that the motives are of govenment, etc.

    p.s. I also think Rick is the man! Honestly, he is a cool dude!!

  8. While the debate on global warming will be with us for years to come, a more pressing problem is what to do about Rick’s issue with unsightly hat hair. I would hate to read about my favorite travel writer dying from the heat (even though his hair looked great).

    Can anyone offer Rick a solution?

  9. The question is not is global warming real, the questions are whether humans are the cause and whether humans can do anything about it. The answer to the first is “highly unlikely.” Did humans cause the last major warming period (which by all evidence was much worse than the current – even Greenland’s coast was green and free of ice back then) in the middle ages? Almost certainly they did not. Did humans cause the “little ice age” that followed the middle ages warm period and lasted nearly 600 years? Just as highly unlikely. The answer to the second question is “very little.” We can affect some minor local/regional changes, but certainly not global. The eruption of a volcano in the Philippines affected the world climate more than humans ever could. Kyoto was based on bad science and worse economics – even the Europeans are beginning to figure that out. And any “agreememt” that leaves out the 2nd largest and fastest growing polluter is doomed to failure.

  10. > Global Warming is Bad Science. The world
    > has always under gone cycles of weather,
    > since the great flood.

    But never this abruptly. That can be proven with core samples. Those screaming “junk science” are themselves the junk scientists, and many of them are in the pay of the oil companies, who have backed most of those studies.

  11. Global warming….hmmmm. I live in South Florida and right now it’s hot — about the same that it’s been for the past 8 years.

    My relatives live in one of the Canadian prairie provinces. For those that can relate, guess what they have to “say” about their weather from December through April? Cold as always and they DON’T want to know how pleasant it is in South Florida in January, lol!

    Hey, I firmly believe that mankind is adversely affecting his/her environment. We’re consumers, and in my opinion, not very responsible one’s (myself included).

    But I still say “the truth” is somewhere in between what the Global Warming hype-sters and the “Junk Science” Critics would have us believe.

    Get past the “hype” (those screaming the loudest) and look at the facts. That’s where the answer lies.

  12. Seems to me the warming debate has spun into irreconcilable sides and those of us who care about our environment may be wise to shift the terms of the problem from temperatures to one of quality of life. Are our lives as good as they can be breathing diesel and gas fumes? Are our towns and cities as pretty (and useful) as they can be with even more roads and cars? Most of the people who see global warming as junk science or misinterpreted data aren’t going to be won over by a hot summer or someone’s anecdotal observations. Many may, however, agree less traffic, concrete, crisper-air and more silence may lead to a better life. Americans can learn much from Europe in this regard, yet we also have a beautiful history of quickly adapting to change (and on occasion, though it has been far too long, inspiring the world). The old adage of catching flies with honey is not just the trick here to promote mass-transit and pedestrian-friendly lifestyles, it is the most convincing argument.

  13. Rick. You’re an idiot.

    Why don’t you stick to something you actually know about; like making a career out of travelling on the contributions to PBS made by people who can’t afford to join you.

    Would you go to a Doctor of Philosophy to have your gall bladder removed? Real climatologists are punished by the pseudo-science community when they debunk global warming theorists. There’s no money for studying “Not-Global-Warming,” and it doesn’t ingratiate you with the Babs Streisand set.

    If you really want to do something for the good of the world’s poorest, how about a crusade to rescind the (U.S. led) ban on DDT, so that Africa, Asia and Latin America can be rid of Malaria. If you examine current scientific literature on the subject, you’ll find that the dire predictions about DDT’s impact were as faulty and overblown as is the current PC rant of Global Warming. Global Idiocy will not save planet, plant or one person. Shut up and travel.

  14. So much for being polite.

    Whether you like what Rick says or not, he has a right to say it, just as you do. It’s called freedom of speech. The difference is that this is HIS blog, not yours.

  15. I had a subscription to Rick’s email newsletter until it stopped being a travel newsletter and became a political newsletter. This is another example of why I unsubscribed. The Kyoto Accords exempted China and India. Why shold Americas’s poor pay the price for our signing the Accords? Kyoto will hurt the American industrial base. That costs jobs.
    Steve, please stick to travel, you do that best.

  16. I totally agree with the political vs. travel comment. I am a first time traveler to Europe, leaving in a few days for Spain & the South of France, and I was really hoping to see some great commentary here on travel in Spain. Too bad!

  17. I am and always will be a fan of Rick. And, personally, I’m proud to say that a personal hero and mentor uses his public appeal to educate about topics that other people in his position are too afraid to touch.

    So, Rick, contrary to what was said above- I appreciate all of your input and your dedication. Please continue doing what you do best…being an informed and educated human being.

  18. I was actually referring to all of the comments posted by others, not Rick’s initial entry.

  19. I agree with G for the comment. I have been a fan of Rick Steves for a number of years. He is not afraid to voice his opinions and educates readers about the world ( well, at least Europe ). Traveling makes your think and change the perspective about the planet we live in. Traveling helps us understand better about our differences in terms of cultures, languages, customes etc. Rick brings us the knowledge and interest, that’s why I read his books, his shows. Even though I have never met Rick, I do believe he is a good guy, and geniune!!

    Thank you Rick!!

  20. What a hypocrite.

    Rick Steves is a wealthy man who got rich doting on helpless American tourists who (here’s the hypocrisy) made their money off the system he deplores.

    All of this travel is unnecessary. Stop flying, stop driving. Hold your breath and do the world a favor.

  21. Rick, I agree that Global Warming is a serious problem, but you should remember that it is a phenomenon of averages, not specific heat waves. While many experts beleive that it could have more drastic effects on temperature spikes, such as shifting the Gulf Stream, global warming is primarily more subtle in its effects.

    I’m sorry to see that some of the people who post on your blog feel that anonimity is a liscence to be rude. You’re a patient guy.

  22. Rick,

    Please, no one will concern themselves with your bad hair after a day of hat-wearing. This is such an American thing…worrying about looking good. No one in Europe will point fingers and laugh. Buy a hat, wear it, and save your health during this infuriatingly hot summer weather.

    [By the by, yes, I am an American, immigrated to Switzerland, from the “Prettiest People in the World” capital of Washington, DC. It also took me a long time to rid myself of this constant mirror-watching phobia.]

    Besides, a men’s Panama in Spain is always very stylish!

    Stay cool!

  23. Poor Rick, he must really be suffering to complain about the heat, especially since he listed Americans complaining about the heat and no AC as a pet peev.

    I’ve been driven nuts by the canicule (heat wave) in Paris, we live here in an apartement sans AC. Seeing my thermometer registering 87 degrees at 11pm at night, and not being able to nudge a thermostat down a little gets old after a week or two.

    The heat wave has broken here, so I will send Rick some cooler Paris weather down in Spain.

    There are several greenhouse gas emmision calculators, this one lets you add up all modes of travel:

    It might be interesting to know some stats on what the relative contribution of air travel vs. car vs. train travel. That way Rick’s readers can plan a trip that does the least damage to the environment.

  24. Rick,

    Keep blogging your opinions! That’s what blogs are for.

    I don’t understand the anger from the climate-change sceptics. Disagree about the degree to which climate change is manmade, disagree about the earth’s robust self-correcting systems; but Rick is no fool for believing what the vast majority of the researchers conclude.

    I think the concern about the environmental impact of flying only argues for longer vacations: more travel per ton of CO2!

  25. Dang it Chris, you stole my line! Bob and Lloyd–I totally agree with your right to say garbage…just be careful you don’t fall off the edge of the world.

    A year ago, I took a cruise to Alaska. Glacier Bay is now totally free of ice, which it wasn’t not too long ago. The glaciers are retreating. Temperatures have risen a couple of degrees. Not much, you say? Try telling that to the Arctic/Antarctic ice packs. Polar bears can’t even find ice floes to hunt from and have taken to abandoning their cubs because they have to range too far looking for food supplies.

    I could go on and on….

    Sure, there’s no global warming…and the earth is still flat and the universe rotates around the earth…and…

  26. I read Rick’s blog for the travel info, but I also love when he gets personal with us. He’s blogging about global warming because I’m sure that’s the conversation of choice in restaurants, hotels, etc. even in Spain. It’s not as if he’s pulling his topic out of the hot, humid air and standing on a soap box just to blow hot air. If it were me in Spain I’ll bet my postcard home would read something like this: Dear whoever; Spain in July – not a good idea. Man, is it hot! I’m almost wishing for the Vermont winter – not that they are as frigid as they used to be, but you know what I mean. See you when I get home. PS: I saw Rick Steves today. He was trying on hats and he looked really good in most of them.

  27. Global warming. The new bogeyman, the new original sin. We’re all guilty and had better atone – fast. Environmentalism is the new 21st century religion and desperately in need of converts to control.
    It’s sad to see our master fall victim and take the route of so many writers/performers/artists – young and optimistic, middle-aged and productive, old and sour.
    Not rude – the truth. For all his world travel, our master knows surprisingly little about how the world works. Or is it a ruse,a clever segue to a new career?

  28. Sorry everyone! My apologies. I thought this was the blog for Rick Steeves (2 e’s), the noted pornographer and Harvard lepidopterist.
    Carry on with your free exchange of twaddle.

  29. RS: I think the prevailing thought is that we’d rather see you in a shady hat (forget about bad hair) in the Spanish heat rather than see you “braving it” in the sun and frying your brains. The headache is an indicator that you’re getting a little too much sun, ya know.

    There are plenty of cool (and cool looking) hats out there…you could even wear several on a single episode.

    My regret is simply that summer vacations usually coincide with European summer heat. Can anybody come up with a solution to that? Until someone does, I favor shoulder seasons for exactly this reason. The climate is much more temperate and endurable.

    As an aside: I bet Cokes with plenty of ice are a popular item in Spain right about now…as are cold beer and sangria.

    Thanks for the “sunny” heads up, Rick!

  30. Rick,
    I was stationed outside of Madrid over
    forty years ago and we had one of the
    hottest july’s on record and the winter
    of the same year was the coldest in a
    hundred years.

  31. I think a lot of people here are confusing two different issues. A lot of people posting say, in essence, Kyoto was flawed, that’s that. Whether it was or not, the point is we still must do something. If Kyoto wasn’t the answer, fine, but then we must still work to find the answer. We’re not off the hook. We have our work cut out for us.

  32. If Spain is serving their cokes with plenty of ice now, Spain’s sure changed since I was there in 1999. Back then, if you ordered una Coca Cola con hielo, the server would reach into an ice maker with a pair of tongs and drop exactly two cubes into the glass–no more.

    As much as I don’t like to force American culture on other places, I hope the European continent has discovered the benefits and pleasures of a well-iced glass of soda! (In case any European restaurateurs are reading, here’s a hint: ice is cheaper to make than Coke, so a glass of Coke full of ice costs you less than a glass solely full of Coke, leaving you with more profit!)

  33. GW usually gets more attention in the summer than other times of the year. Duh. It is supposed to be hot in the summer. I was in France in January and the Netherlands in May. Not one word about GW while Europe was stuck in a massize cold spell in January, and the Netherlands had a much milder and cooler (and longer) than normal spring. Even Keukenhof Garden was opened longer than normal because of the cooler, later, and longer growing season.

    FWIW, the icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica are getting thicker (increased snowfall), glaciers in Iceland are increasing in size, and Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska is growing – again

  34. My two cents on Global Change:
    As an expat living in Switzerland I find the Global Change issue interesting. You see the European media by and large does not dispute the existence of GW / GC; it debates its consequences. For a more continental view why not try the BBC website.

    Travel stuff:
    I have an aunt who lives in Phoenix and she always tells me that it’s a dry 105 so it’s not too bad. I just returned from Italy (Verona, Venice) and I have to tell you that 100 is hot, dry or otherwise. If you don’t like hot don’t go to Italy, Spain, or southern France in July / August. And believe it or not many hotels do not have AC; or the AC is a swamp cooler and only cools about 10°. Don’t assume an inexpensive hotel has AC.

    As for ice, how do you spell that? If I want ice I go to McDonald’s; otherwise I drink it at whatever temperature it’s served at. And remember that ice is made with local water. If you wouldn’t drink the water …

  35. I did not read all the entries so forgive me if this is a repeat. There was an excellent article on this week discussing how the EU-15 has made little or no progress in achieving their Kyoto goals. Same w/Canada and Japan. It seems lots of nations signed but few are actually getting anything done. Also when I was in Australia last year there was a major global environmental conference going on and there was an article in the newspaper discussing how nation after nation were quietly going up to the OZ reps (a nation that did not sign but for not all the same reasons as US) and telling them how smart they were to not sign.
    I’m all for less polution/CO2 in the air and am fascinated by the advances in alt. energy, but today’s “insert apocalyptic scenario here” environmental press releases have just turned me off. Sorry but Kyoto for me is a joke, maybe not all the science but definitely the politics behind its main cheerleaders. There just isn’t this great movement to live up to Kyoto, just to say you signed. For some reason saying you signed seems to be equated w/taking actual serious action. I think America and Australia have it right just as much can be done outside Kyoto.

  36. Noted the point about Canada and Kyoto. As a Canadian I can comment on it. Kyoto was signed by a Prime Minister who had already indicated he was stepping down and would not have to execute it. He also hated his successor, so it was a Parthian Shot at an old rival. What he could not know was that his successor would not last in office and would be replacd by a party that has little time for Kyoto, simply because it will not work, and even if it did, Canada’s contribution would be so infinitessimal that it would make no difference. He is attempting to get a Canadian “solution” to reduce the emisions outside of the agreement, but as a minority government will have trouble get this sensible solution approved by parliament.

    Global warming appears to be a fact, but, as an early poster pointed out, whether man caused it is debatable, and whether he can do anything about it is probably more a reaction of man’s ego than practical considerations.

  37. What I find baffling about this “global warming” debate, and the larger issue that it is part of – damage to the earth’s environment – is that so many “conservatives” have no interest in “conservation”. Do they truly believe that Texas oilmen only want what is best for all of us? Do they truly believe that their bodies are somehow immune from the health issues (cancer, etc) most likely caused by pollution that spreads all over the whole world? Do they want to catch poisoned fish they can’t eat from filthy rivers while breathing polluted air? Do they not care about America?

    I just don’t get it.

    And I know, I know – this is a travel blog….

  38. All of you who disagree with Rick regarding Global Warming need to “see the light.” It’s here and there’s plenty of scientific and natural evidence to prove it!

  39. check out
    i too want to find an easy way to counter the environmental impact of my hectic flight schedule.
    i have had lots of interest from banks and credit cards who want to offer this as donation of ‘rewards’ when you buy airline tickets…still no airlines signed up but it is just a matter of time.


  40. Ye gods! You went to Spain in August and it was hot?! Sound the General Alarm!!!

    Next, you’ll no doubt be headed to Oktoberfest to blog about how Bush is to blame for the unprecedented increase in drunk tourists.

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