Today, I am sharing two versions of my daily world view – looking east at sunrise, out over our local woods to the valley beyond. Living high on quite an exposed valley side, facing towards the North Pennine moorlands, we have a very ongoing relationship with the weather: colouring our skies in the early morning, blasting us with wild winds or drenching us with driving rain.
Connecting types of weather to our UK seasons is something we have absorbed from childhood. But how often do we now find ourselves talking about ‘unseasonal’ or ‘extreme’ weather? It seems almost constant.
We don’t need to be meteorologists to be aware that our weather patterns are changing from those we have come to expect as part of the seasonal cycle.
My snowy January image above was taken 2 years ago. It would be most unusual for us to get through the month of January without seeing a good covering of snow for at least a day or two. We’ve not seen more than an odd flurry of snow yet this Winter. Over the Christmas and New Year holiday, we had some of that ‘unseasonal’ weather I mentioned earlier, mild and frost-free.
It’s not only humans noticing these weather changes – the natural world has noticed too. Last year, late February saw temperatures we associate with Summer. And only once since 1910 had March seen more rain.
Over at Nature’s Calendar https://naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk/analysis/seasonal-reports/, their records show that everything we associate with Spring happened earlier last year. All of the flowering plants such as blackthorn, hazel and lilac bloomed between 3 and 5 weeks earlier than expected. Frogspawn, butterflies, ladybirds were all spotted 2 to 3 weeks early. Birds were early building their nests.
These natural events have been recorded over so many years, the changes are noticeable.
For many people around the world, including here in the UK, we know climate change has created much bigger problems than finding we need to mow the lawn before the end of March. The heartbreaking wildfire scenes from Australia, flooding in Indonesia and here in the UK are just the next painful examples of the climate crisis we are living in.
Many of us are trying to do our bit for the planet: planting trees, avoiding plastic, eating less meat, walking or cycling rather than car travel … and a whole host of other things too.
I think individuals taking collective action really is important and shouldn’t be underestimated, but the speed with which we as a global society must act on the climate crisis means we must convince decision makers to act too.
At this year’s World Economic Forum this week at Davos the climate crisis is very much on the agenda. Finally. This annual meet-up of the world’s top brass in business, finance and politics is where the decisions determining what is important this year are discussed.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020 acknowledges and highlights the climate crisis, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss as the most significant risks this year.
From the reports I have seen coming out of Davos, it could have gone better, but I do think there’s reason for hope.
Senior business executives are beginning to realise it can’t just be about shareholders profits any more. Business as usual is now being challenged not only by climate activists, but by hedge fund managers too.
Yes, of course we will need to keep banging the climate crisis drums – and ever louder. But I am beginning to feel that we are rolling the wave now and I believe the impetus is on the side of taking climate action.
I am hopeful that this is another win for Professor Romer’s “conditional optimists”, that I talked about in one of my New Year posts.
I think of it as active optimism – the more people we have taking positive climate action, the more likely we are to be successful in our endeavours to save our planet and its biodiversity for the future.