“Everybody loves to talk about the weather”.

Surprisingly, this was one of the most common phrases I heard as a journalist working at the BBC. In Belfast and London newsrooms journalists, producers and even my editor used it on more than one occasion.

Often, the phrase was used as an explanation for devoting resources and several big chunks of a news programme to a weather-related story. But the truth of the statement couldn’t be denied; be it heavy rain and the subsequent flooding or indeed the chaos that would ensue following a skift of snow, it appeared there was no end to the public’s appetite for such stories.

While I enjoy hearing about the weather at home from my parents now that I live in the south-east of England, which feels Mediterranean for five months of the year, and am an active participant in all weather-related conversation between us, I’ve always regarded weather chat a little unimaginative.

Not to say I’ve never initiated a conversation with the words: “lovely day, isn’t it” but as soon as I’ve uttered those words, I‘ve cringed and immediately heard my inner critic tell me how boring I sound.

And yet the public’s obsession with the weather can’t be minimised.

For Irish and British people, at least, it is one of those classic, if not also clichéd, conversation starters or silence fillers. Use it and you’ll pretty much be guaranteed to garner a response from any age group. I’ve even heard my three year old mentioning how it’s a lovely, sunny day!

This week, it’s been in the news because to no-one’s surprise, 2018 was the hottest ever summer in England since records began in 1910, reaching 35.6 degrees Celsius.

Northern Ireland didn’t quite beat the record set in 1976 but it was still a scorcher with highs of 30.5 recorded in Derrylin.

I was pleased to have spent most of the summer back on Irish soil where temperatures were much more bearable than Kent. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I can no longer tolerate intense heat. It’s a far cry from when I was in my teens and early twenties and could (and did) sizzle before I’d even consider moving from the beach. These days, however, too much heat leaves me feeling drained and irritable.

Of course, it’s easy to be flippant about the warmer summers we’ve experienced of late. They allow us something our European friends take for granted.

That is, to actually plan ahead for days at the beach or go camping without the exasperation of being flooded in your sleeping bag on the first night and spending the next day in damp clothes, before resigning to the fact that camping in Ireland is generally a bad idea.

But the danger in dismissing the changes in our climate is that we remain complacent about the fact that this planet on which we live is moving to a warmer state, of which the effects are alarming. On a basic level we’ve experienced some of these affects this summer with the hosepipe bans and health warnings for people to stay out of the sun.

Other negative effects include disruption to agriculture and wildlife. And yet it remains that this new reality is not high on the political agenda. The government says it’s committed to cutting carbon emissions, but it is not on track to meet its targets.

And then there are those who deny we are in a climate crisis, mainly those on the far-right of politics. I don’t even know why we debate with those people any more never mind give them a platform. There are debates to be had around global warming but denying its existence isn’t one of them.

The science is there, the facts are clear; as the earth continues to heat as more greenhouse gases are emitted, intense heatwaves will continue.

Before people get tired of talking about the weather, we ought to be having frank discussions and debates around how we can change our mindset and meet the challenges of the climate crisis in our midst, for the sake of future generations, if not our own.