The climate in Great Britain is generally mild and temperate due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The south-western winds carry the warmth and moisture into Britain. The climate in Britain is usually described as cool, temperate and humid. British people say: «Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather».
The weather in Britain changes very quickly. One day may be fine and the next day may be wet. The morning may be warm and the evening may be cool. Therefore it is natural for the people to use the comparison «as changeable as the weather» of a person who often changes his mood or opinion about something.
The weather is the favourite topic of conversation in Britain. When two Englishmen are introduced to each other, if they can’t think of any thing else to talk about, they talk about weather. When two people meet in the street they will often say something about weather as they pass, just to show their friendliness. Every daily paper publishes a weather forecast. Both the radio and television give the weather forecast several times each day.
The English also say that they have three variants of weather: when it rains in the morning, when it rains in the afternoon or when in rains all day long. Sometimes it rains so heavily that they say «It’s raining cats and dogs». Rainfall is more or less even throughout the year. In the mountains there is heavier rainfall then in the plains of the south and east.
The driest period is from March to June and the wettest months are from October to January. The average range of temperature is from 15 to 23 degrees above zero. During a normal summer the temperature sometimes rises above 30 degrees in the south. Winter temperatures below 10 degrees are rare. It seldom snows heavily in winter, the frost is rare. January and February are usually the coldest months, July and August the warmest. Still the wind may bring winter cold in spring or summer
days. Sometimes it brings the whirlwinds or hurricanes.
We may say that the British climate has three main features: it is mild, humid and changeable. That means that it is never too hot or too cold. Winters are extremely mild. Snow may come but it melts quickly. In winter the cold is humid cold, not the dry one. This humid and mild climate is good for plants. The trees and flowers begin to blossom early in spring.
In the British homes there has been no central heating up till recently. The fireplaces are often used, but the coal is not used as it’s very expensive. Britain has no good coal now and imports it itself. Many schools and universities have no central heating either, and the floors there are made of stone. The British bedroom is especially cold, sometimes electric blankets or hotwater bottles are used.
Britain was originally a land of vast forests, mainly oak and beech in the Lowlands and pine and birch In the Highlands, with great stretches of marshland and smaller areas of moors. In the course of time, much forest land was cleared and almost all Lowlands outside the industrial areas were put under cultivation.
Today only about 6 per cent of the total land area remains wooded. Extensive forests remain in eastern and northern Scotland and in south-eastern and western England. Oak, elm, ash, and beech are the commonest trees in England, while Scotland has much pine and birch. The Highlands with thin soil are largely moorland with heather and grasses. In the cultivated areas that make up most of Britain there are many wild flowers, flowering plants and grasses.
The fauna or animal life of Britain is much like that of north-western Europe, to which it was once joined. Many larger mammals such as bear, wolf have been hunted to extinction, others are now protected by law. There are many foxes. Otters are common along rivers and streams, and seals live along much of the coast. Hedgehogs, hares, rabbits, rats and mice are numerous. Deer live in some of the forests in the Highlands of Scotland and England.
Some 230 kinds of birds live in Britain, and another 200 are regular visitors, many are songbirds. The most numerous are blackbirds, sparrow and starling. Robin Redbreast is the national bird of Britain. The number of ducks, geese and other water fowl has diminished during recent years.
There are many threats to wildlife and ecological balance around the coast. The biggest threat to the coastline is pollution. Even much-loved Blackpool is not officially asafe. More than 3.500 million tons of industrial waste is pumped into the North Sea every year. «We cannot continue to use our seas as a dustbin and expect our coastline to survive», says Greenpeace.