Imagine, if you will, just one eventuality out of millions.
It's mid-summer in England and the BBC weather programme is forecasting yet another scorching weekend. This is followed by a government announcement: the presenter reminds viewers that the sun shelter time begins at 11:24am and ends at 2:07pm. The streets are silent, and the glaring heat reflects from the off-white sun screens fixed to every window. Here and there the signs of a household unable to pay for the screens is marked by the presence of heavy, cheerfully-patterened curtains, which are bleached almost white by the heat and pressed against the windows with cheap solarfoam boards.
A few minutes later, a loudspeaker echoes the advice of the smiling presenter across the neighbourhood. The hubbub of noise dies as people hurry indoors and the last screens slide shut into place. A yelp echoes loudly off the concrete - somewhere, a child has stepped onto the ground with an exposed foot. Third-degree burns are now common enough to be a source of pride in school playgrounds.
The next few hours are the domain of teams of the White Angels. NHS personnel, dressed in specially-designed cooler suits, roam the streets searching for people overcome by the heat. Normally their rounds involve heatstroke, lesser burns and unlucky citizens hiding in the rapidly-disappearing shadows. Occasionally they find something much more sinister; a homeless person with fourth-degree burns covering most of their body. Most of these don't survive.
Nearing the (scientifically-calculated) peak of noon, even the White Angels retreat into the safety of the medical centres.
It's about now that the entire nation sits down to eat.
Just about everything on this family's table has been frozen. Especially the meat and fish products, which by government guidelines were bought two days ago. Today's dinner includes freshwater cod; a luxury - this family is well-off. Fish is a rare commodity now that the majority of the sealife has been driven deeper and further out into the sea. The father produces the cod proudly from the oven, and the mother tries to persuade their 3 year old daughter to try some. She is having none of this strange white meat, to her parents' chagrin.
The older child, an 8 year old boy, is currently at school. He is sitting at a table in the school's great hall. Strangely enough, the generous helping of vegetables is not putting him off his dinner. This is mainly because he helped to grow them in the school's sprawling greenhouses, which cover roughly half of what used to be the playing field (the grass now a dull dirty yellow). With his vegetables he has semi-battery produced chicken (deep-frozen in the school's underground larder), fruit juice and a banana dessert, made with bananas from the plantation just a few miles away.
1:15pm approaches and the children return to their lessons. The White Angels emerge into the sunshine once more to resume their rounds.
Thankfully, no one died today.
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