The year the Gulf Stream Stopped, UK, 1962/63. Credit Wikipedia.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano sent shockwaves across the South Pacific, yesterday. The underwater volcano erupted off the island of Tonga blasting rocks, ash and steam an incredible 60,000ft, almost 20km into the sky which will have a cooling climate effect for at least the next couple of months and depending on the duration and size of the eruption could cool the planet. The shock wave from the eruption reverberated around the world smashing windows hundreds of 'kms away and causing flooding from a tsunami thousands of 'kms away, Bill Laughing-Bear mailed me saying his cabin rocked from the explosion thousands of miles a way in Alaska!.
Devastating record-breaking climate and weather disasters are recently becoming the new normal. Typhoons and hurricanes are increasing in strength annually killing thousands of people a year. Floods, snow, cold, heat, droughts, wildfires and other climatic disasters are causing governments around the world hundreds of billion dollars a year. Our oceans are dying through overfishing, pollution and warming.
During July, 2021, the heavens opened around the world with record-breaking rainfall causing unprecedented carnage and breaking records at the same time. In India an incredible 600 mm, 24 inches of rain drenched Maharashtra in just 24 hours killing almost two hundred people with many more missing as the immense amount of rain swept away anything in its path. Most of the deaths came from landslides which in turn swallowed whole communities, with more than a thousand villages overwhelmed, the landslides swept away houses leaving residents stranded according to a report from the BBC. The incredible deluge was the heaviest spell of rain in the area ever. Mumbai's underground city of metro tunnels were also flooded, bringing trains to a standstill and trapping customers. At the time, India was enduring its monsoon season but this amount of rain had not been witnessed before.
However, the torrential downpours didn’t just hit India that month, parts of Europe were hit by record-breaking floods killing more than two hundred people and destroying small towns. Parts of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland were all hit, as well as the UK, a month's rain fell in just a couple of hours in London, flooding the famous Underground and bringing transport to halt. The same thing happened in China when Zhengzhou saw 624 mm, more than 2ft of rainfall and, incredibly, more than 200 mm falling in just one hour, smashing China's historical records". Hundreds of people became trapped in the Zhengzhou underground. The unprecedented flooding happened so fast it caught people by surprise. In New York, similar stories were emerging as torrential rains caused life-threatening floods and leaving the Big Apple's underground flooded too—leaving New Yorkers wading through life threatening subterranean floods in an effort to reach their destinations. All these events happened in just a couple of weeks of each other. Similar deluges fell in New Zealand, Turkey, Iran, Dubai and Yemen. Tropical Storm Elsa, the earliest-formed fifth named storm on record over the Atlantic Ocean, drenched the eastern coast of the US.
But it was not just rain. Climate chaos caused hundreds of massive wildfires along the entire western coast of the US and Canada, the year before the entire East coast of Australia was ablaze. Record-breaking heat waves in south western Canada boiled locals, temperatures reached 49.9 deg C, 122 deg F in some parts and similar temperatures in western United States fuelled the massive fires fanned by dry winds and long lasting droughts. Massive fires were also burning in the Amazon, and Siberia and South America, all sparked by burning heat or drought. As I write this in January, 2022
In South Africa, Brazil and Australia, farmers were having to contend with record-breaking cold and rare snowfall. Chaotic conditions were becoming the norm for millions of farmers and animals alike.
A new report in March 2021 revealed more than 12 million people had been internally displaced around the world in just "six months!" Mainly due to climate and weather-related disasters in poorer parts of the world. In less than 6 months, 12.6 million people, more than the population of Belgium had been displaced around the world. In just 23 days during January 2021 Indonesia suffered 185 disasters including two major earthquakes, seven volcano eruptions with a further 3 showing activity, as well as deadly tornadoes, landslides and floods killing and injuring thousands and displacing many more. These figures released by the Red Cross showed just how desperate life is becoming for many people around the world thanks to increasing extreme weather events.
Many people around the world are suddenly beginning to realise— life has become unliveable.
58 years earlier.
The UK experienced the worst winter since the early '1700s.
In the winter of 1962-63 something incredible happened to the UK as well as other parts of Northern Europe. The entire British Isles was plunged into an unexpected and unprepared “Day After Tomorrow esc” mini-ice-age event which was dubbed— “The year the gulf stream stopped.” The devastating winter lasted from December 1962, through January and February and into March 1963 with snow-covering lasting well into April. The unexpected blast of cold, wind and snow crippled the country’s infrastructure and economy. The 'UK's labour market more or less stopped overnight and brought the UK to its knees. The record cold and snow of 1962-63 was a record-breaker and was only preceded by the record-breaking winters of 1683–84, (known as the mini-ice-age) and 1739–40. The winter of 1962-63 was so severe, the sea froze around the ports of the UK disrupting shipping imports, exports and fishing.
On the 22nd of December, a “beast-from-the-east” weather front of high-pressure, brought in brutal cold air from Russia only to be followed by another high-pressure system bringing in even colder air from Iceland, Britain was the frozen meat in the sandwich. The extreme cold established itself over the UK and didn’t move for three months plunging the country’s roads and transport systems into chaos, isolating towns, cities and villages around the country.
Great Britain’s infrastructure was not designed for a weather event like that and couldn’t cope. Cold northern winds brought blizzards sweeping across the country dumping incredible amounts of snow with drifts as high as 20ft, or 6 + metres in many places, an incredible amount of snow for the UK. The relentless snow, along with cold and fierce winds carried on through January and February causing misery and hardship for millions of British people. Many hospitals struggled to cope and thousands died from the cold. Shops struggled to keep up with supplies and farming was impossible, resulting in thousands of dead cattle and frozen crops. The whole three months turned into a modern-day disaster, highlighting the inadequacy and fragility of a modern-day infrastructure when hit with a once-in-a-lifetime extreme weather event.
This inadequacy has suddenly become increasingly evident around the world recently, long after Britain's record-breaking winter of 1962-63, as we will read later in this book.
We didn’t know it at the time of course but the winter of 1962-63 gave the Brits and the rest of the world just a tiny glimpse into future events which would cripple our fragile planet. How could we have known then? In just 60 years time our whole world would be deep into the struggle of a sixth extinction event?
Not only are we now facing the prospect of losing crops, plants, animals and marine life on an industrial scale annually due to climate disasters greed and neglect, but also the mass extinction of insects, bees and butterflies, the small but equally important species which pollinate flowers, fruit and crops. Our home is dying.
Human greed and neglect have brought the entire planet to its knees in just a short time, the actual collapse started around 60 years ago, in fact, just five-years before Britain's record-breaking winter. We didn’t know it then (NASA did have a clue), climate change had arrived, “baby steps at first,” but, natural disasters, volcanic activity, major earthquakes, floods, droughts, extreme weather events along with other anomalies suddenly started increasing, while soil, plants, animals and microorganisms suddenly began decreasing. Very gradually, and very quietly our ecosystem here on Earth began to crumble and now just 60 years later we, as a people have an inevitable breakdown of our very life support system which is too badly broken to fix.
In March 2021, the American government-run National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) released their monthly national report on the American weather which had just recorded their coldest February in more than 30 years and the record-breaking freeze which caused many parts of the country, especially Texas, to become, "unlivable!" February 2021 was a brutally cold month for Texans: It brought the coldest air since December 1989 to much of the state. Several locations across central Texas — including Austin and Waco — broke records for the longest streak of below-freezing temperatures. Every county in Texas was under a “Winter Storm Warning” by mid-February wind chill values had dropped below zero as far south as the Rio Grande River and northeastern Mexico. The Texan infrastructure just like Britain’s 63 years earlier was brought to its knees. At one point eight million Texans were boiling their water to make it safe to drink, others were reduced to drinking a “yellow, foul tasting sludge” from their taps, while platoons of plumbers and engineers struggled to repair the damage done to countless homes and businesses by the unsuspected cruel winter storm. Nearly as many were without electricity for almost a week. Many Texans faced food shortages as grocery stores tried to stay stocked, huge crowds descended on food pantries already under stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic which continued to threaten a state where, according to NBC News data, almost 50,000 people had died of Covid-19 and 2.6 million people had been infected. At the height of the storm 1,445, public water systems reported service disruptions due to the cold, affecting 14.5 million Texans across 190 counties. Also, while power had been restored in much of Texas after the state's power grid buckled in the face of the historically low temperatures, many people were also hit with massive electricity bills because scarce power meant higher prices in the state's market-based energy system. Millions of Texans were already suffering from a pretty deep recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ironically the US had just recovered from “unlivable” weather events in September and October 2020: Historic, record-breaking wildfires had burned across the entire Western coast, unprecedented tropical activity churned up the Atlantic causing a record-bustin’ hurricane season, and parts of the country saw record heat waves. What’s more, the first nine months of 2020 brought a record-tying 16 billion-dollar worth of weather disasters to the nation. Seven of those events — western wildfires, a Western/Central U.S. drought and heatwave, Hurricane Sally, Hurricane Laura, the Midwest derecho and Hurricane Isaias and the February cold-snap — all occurred in just a seven month period after June 2020.
What happened to the UK in 1962/63 was a precursor as to what we are beginning to see in certain areas of the world. Vast areas are now becoming impossible to live in due to climate change and extreme weather events. Many of the areas have for years been heavily populated but are now, at least for certain parts of the year,
"unlivable." At the beginning of 2020, the entire eastern coastline of Australia, a vast area covering millions of square miles, was engulfed by flames, an estimated 12 billion animals were killed or injured. Almost 25% of Australian temperate forestry was lost as was 60% of their summer crop production. Many people died, thousands of houses and businesses were lost as drought, unprecedented heat and tinder-dry conditions sparked the biggest wildfire season by a country mile for the Aussie people. A normal severe wildfire season in Australia would normally destroy 2% of temperate forestry, this one burned 25%! We are not prepared for what is coming and neither are our governments, experts and scientists.