As I rush around doing lots of last-minute tasks in preparation for one day of over consumption I am struck by the view from my windows in South London, where plant-life seems to have become confused. That confusion could prove terminal, if the UK gets the predicted freeze in the new year.
My summer jasmine is about to come into flower and, from our roof terrace, it’s possible to see a cotoneaster, heavily laden with red berries and yet, two gardens further down, a flowering cherry is in blossom. Winter and Spring plants in full colour, simultaneously. The third, man-made ‘tree’ in between, acquires its dressing on an irregular, if frequent, basis and for short periods only.
Is this climate change? It must be. Such freak occurrences are becoming more common. Of course, we now have the 2015 Paris Agreement, but it’s unfortunate that there are no detailed specific timetables attached to it, as there were in its predecessor, the Kyoto protocol. It’s a fine balancing act which gets both the US and China (the world’s biggest emitters) to sign up, but then leaves compliance largely voluntary. Somehow I’m not counting any chickens (turkeys, ducks or geese) before they hatch. I found it interesting, however, that this year, for the first time, I have received Christmas cards which reference climate change and the Paris Agreement directly. A sign that the need to restrict global warming has entered the mainstream perhaps? A sign, I hope, that public concern is not going to go away.
Old truisms, like the UK having ‘weather’ (changeable and unpredictable), while other countries have a climate (regular and repeated), no longer hold. Everywhere has weather now. In southern Spain it is the warmest winter since ….a long while. The plant-life there is confused too. My neighbour sent me this, envy-making, photograph of beach and sea earlier this week, when it was twenty-one degrees Celsius ( certainly well above the norm for this time of year ). The shot was taken from the beach at El Puerto Santa Maria looking across the bay to Cadiz.
This year has been one of the hottest years on record in Andalucia and the sun has shone in a cloudless sky. Some years ago (2009/10), it took the worst and rainiest Winter in living memory (the rain started on Boxing Day and finished some time in March, with only intermittent respite) for the same neighbour to say to me that she finally understood why British people talked about the weather so much. Up until that time she could rely on the blue sky and sun, the idea that tomorrow’s weather couldn’t be relied upon was very strange to her. No longer. There, as everywhere, there is the growing perception that the climes they are a-changin’.
It is, of course, Summer elsewhere in the world and I hope to be able to share a dispatch from suepsails over the holiday, before she sets off on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. In the meanwhile Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, best wishes for Eid ( a little premature I accept ) and felicitations on the anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. The year has turned, the Winter Solstice has passed and northern hemisphere Summer is on its way ( half an hour’s extra light a week from now until 22nd June ). Enjoy!