In Britain we love to talk about the weather. It is the national conversation especially with strangers and people we haven’t seen for some time. How hot it is, how much rain there is today, how miserable the weekend’s weather and how it may have affected our plans…
Now it is time to stand back a bit and talk about our climate. Especially our changing climate. Climate is not the weather, but the weather patterns averaged over time is our climate. And when older people talk about the typical weather in their childhood and compare it to now, they are beginning to notice the slow change in our climate.
A friend of mine left his country about twenty years ago and has rarely returned. On his last visit he made a panoramic picture of the area around his town, stitching together many photographs to create an impressive long picture for his living room. When I stared and admired the panorama, he became slightly downhearted for a surprising reason: the picture wasn’t how he remembered it as a child. 40 years ago it was green, vivid and vibrant, now the panorama is full of browns, ochres and darker olive colours. As someone who left his childhood area he could sadly see how it was slowly turning into a desert.
This last week in the news we have learnt of the terrible heat wave and fires in British Columbia, Canada. One settlement (Lytton) broke the Canadian highest temperature record three times in the same week, peaking at an unsettling 49.6 degrees Celsius. This particular heat event even has the scientific community asking questions. Could we be seeing events beyond our own worst case scenarios? Dr Friederike Otto of the Environmental Change Institute wrote on 28 June 2021 that “[e]very heatwave occurring today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change.”
So why not start now to talk about the climate?
So let us try to talk about our climate and the changes that are happening just as often as we talk about the weather.