Tropical Holland—Mediterranean plants, whose natural home is much further south thriving in my garden
It has been a week to remember—The UK suffered its warmest temperature ever recorded on Tuesday when the temperature hit 40.3 deg C, 105 deg F, smashing the previous record by almost 2 deg C. The heat forced schools and offices to close, and roads and traffic lights melted as their infrastructure failed to cope. In Europe, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany also had to endure similar temperatures. Portugal, Spain, Greece, and France faced the added stress of hundreds of wildfires. Thousands of miles east and China was suffering 40+ temperatures too. Meanwhile, in the US, more than 100 million people were trapped in the path of a dangerous heatwave yesterday, and on Tuesday temperatures reached 116 deg F—47 deg C.
It's not all heat though, Australia suffered its hottest summer ever in 2019 which resulted in the worst fire season ever. Since that record-breaking summer, Australia has basically endured floods and record-breaking cold. The miserable Australian weather has led to some experts claiming Aus is experiencing a volcanic winter after the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai's record-high eruption on Jan 15, this year.
While Western Europe has been under the influence of a jet stream-induced heatwave, Eastern Europe has gone the other way. Cold and damp conditions have hit eastern Europe with severe damage to crops expected.
Now, many of you will be thinking, but it is summer, it's supposed to be hot, or it's winter there, it's supposed to be cold and of course, you would be correct, at least to a certain extent. But all the above-mentioned events are 'record-breaking' events. 40.3 deg C has never happened before in the UK. The 40 deg C temperature in Holland on Tuesday was the second time in 3 years reached that milestone, ever!
On the 26th of July 2019, I measured an unofficial temperature of 41.4, (107 deg F) in my back garden, in the shade—The Dutch MET Office later in the day claimed the official temp was a record-breaking 40.5 deg C, 105 deg F. Breaking the old record by 1 deg C, curiously set just the day before, we had, in fact, suffered a whole week of temperatures just short of 40 deg C and the heatwave was unprecedented here.
Many of you will be thinking, well, that’s not very hot, I live in a place where temperatures often hit 40 deg C in the summer. Oh yes, however, I live just north of Amsterdam in Holland, if you draw a line westward on a map from Amsterdam you will eventually hit Hudson Bay in Canada and if you continue you will arrive at the southern tip of Alaska.
In early August 2020 temperatures in many parts of Europe were set to exceed 40 deg C, (104F), for at least a week. Now, I understand for people living in Arizona or North Africa, 40 deg C may seem like a walk in the park compared to their extreme temperatures, but, in other countries, such as Belgium, Holland, Germany, etc, 40 deg C is extremely uncomfortable, even dangerous. You see, our infrastructure is not built for these types of temperatures, most of us don't have air conditioning for instance. Our homes are built to trap heat, not to reflect it. So, when heatwaves start hitting 40 deg C and higher, which is becoming more common, we Europeans can soon find ourselves in trouble, we can’t cope.
Living in the UK, where I was born, I am used to short, cool, wet summers, so when I arrived here in Holland in 1995 I was pleasantly surprised by the long cool summers and wonderful sunshine. Back then, if the mercury reached 30 deg C (86F) it was quite a rare event, even considered special, because it didn't happen very often, maybe once in 5 years. However, just ten years later the highs had begun pushing upwards toward 35 deg C (95F). During the two-thousand-teens, the high 30s were becoming much more frequent and even hitting 38 deg C occasionally. Then in the summer of 2019, the 40 deg C (104F) ceiling was smashed when an official temperature of 40.5 deg C, (105 deg F) baked Holland, breaking the all-time record which, ironically was set just the day before at 39.8 deg C. (104 deg F). July 2022 and those temperatures are back once again, however, this summer we haven't had any rain to speak of. August is being predicted as being even hotter!
The 2019 heatwave was unique and quite literally affected, hundreds of locations across the entire continent. Europe smashed all-time hot weather records, in many countries and by an impressive margin. On the 26th of July 2019, the mercury smashed records from Scandinavia to Spain with many locations beating records which had been placed only the day before on the 25th. Here in Holland, and many other parts of Europe we are sure these records will be broken once again this summer. . .
In January and February 2022 we were enjoying a normal quiet winter, very mild and wet, with no snow and no frosts to talk about. Suddenly out of the blue western Europe was hit by three once-in-a-100-year storms which battered our land in the middle of February in just one week. Worse still, it was the 2nd time this had happened in just 3 years—‘Six,’ once in 100-year storms in 2 weeks stretched over 3 years? An over erratic jetstream was blamed and is also being blamed for the heatwaves too.
After the storms left, February suddenly became a wonderful, mild, sun-fest month—Followed by March, April and May and June. We have had no rain to speak of since the February storms. But, hey, as I said earlier, Holland is not Arizona or North Africa, we should be having lots of rain this time of the year, but, we are in drought conditions, wall-to-wall sunshine and much warmer than average temperatures!
When I arrived in Holland in 1995, one of the first things I learned was ice skating, back then winters here in Holland were usually very cold and temperatures could often reach -20 deg C (-4F). Holland produces many speed skating champions for this very reason.
The many canals in Holland would freeze over and the entire nation took to the ice in a skating frenzy.
However, as the years rolled by the cold winters stopped and by 2010 the snow and ice had all but gone, since around 2010, winters have become very mild, last winter, I can't remember the temperature dropping below 5 deg C (41F)
Around 2005 I had the idea that summers and winters were warming, so I bought several small palm small trees and planted them in the garden. They flourished and are now as tall as the house. Since then I have added two olive trees, a fig tree, a grapevine, a Joshua tree and more palms and all are thriving and yet. . .These are all Mediterranean plants—Subtropical!
But, the warmth is not good news for everything, oh no.
Hedgehogs and many other small animals did not hibernate during the last couple of winters, in Ireland, the UK or Western Europe after consecutive mild winters. The effects and implications of this ‘unheard of’ phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but we should be worried. Reports of frogs and toads still being out in people’s gardens during winter is weird, they should have been in deep hibernation because they are cold-blooded animals. This was absolutely unheard of until a couple of winters ago, as far as I know.
Disturbing patterns show the Northern Hemisphere witnessed its warmest winter ever in 2020. The U.S. UK and Ireland, Europe and Russia all reported warm or record warmth for the winter of 2019/20. Across much of the United States, a warming climate advanced the arrival of spring. Californian water supplies are struggling with low winter snow packs and crippling droughts in summer.
Christmas was so mild in Moscow last year they had to import thousands of tons of snow to cover the streets of the capital. In 2020, our summer arrived in the middle of the winter. In the first week of February 2020 temperatures here in Holland reached a balmy 20 deg C (68F). My wife and I enjoyed the weather as we sat outside in the winter sun, it was glorious and something I had never witnessed before, but curiously, a little disturbing.
Many parts of Europe enjoyed summer temps in mid-winter in February 2020. Puerto De La Cruz in Spain topped the list with a mighty, 30 deg C, (86 deg F) and Valencia hitting 29.4 deg C, (85 deg F) almost double the average temperatures for the time of the year, smashing old records. 2022 has been remarkably similar, apart from the three one-in-a-hundred-year storms in the middle of February.
Extreme warmth across the southern half of Europe brought exceptional temperatures across Spain, southern France, and NW Italy. Dry Foehn winds resulted in extremely high early February values with locally 26-28 °C peak afternoon temperatures. Turin and Cuneo in NW Italy reached almost +27 °C, (81 deg F) – the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the Piedmont region (NW Italy) during winter! Southern Switzerland recorded +24 °C while Valencia, in Spain reported +28.4 °C, (85 deg F)!
Europe 2020 recorded one of its mildest winters ever: France enjoyed its warmest winter in 100 years: Germany and Austria had their second warmest winter ever and over here at least the trend continues. Scepticism is becoming an increasingly difficult road to follow, climate change has already happened, climate-changed!— We are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to the unstoppable forces of nature and many of our earlier, thriving metropolitan and urban areas are becoming unliveable. The Australia East Coast, California, and The Gulf Of Mexico spring to mind.
What is now being called the ‘perfect storm’ is rising up toward us at an incredible speed, but, that phrase may be a massive understatement because governments and experts are incredibly under-equipped to even begin to deal with what is coming in the very near future. Weather is now beginning to play its part in the great supply crash and it could bring many affluent countries to their knees.
China for instance has been knocked back onto the ropes recently. Crippled by a nationwide shortage of power, just like the rest of the world, of course, the Chinese government had to impose power cuts to its ports and factories in October 2021. But what happened just days later was something no one could forecast. A week of Biblical amounts of rain fell, disabling major cities. 185.6mm fell in some parts, compared with the 25mm national average it saw in October between 1981 and 2010. There is no known man-made infrastructure which can handle this kind of volume. Millions of people were displaced in the Shanxi Province. Thousands of houses were destroyed and the government had to close almost 450 mines. To make matters worse, the unprecedented rainfall came just three months after floods had killed more than 300 people in Henan Province. It has happened yet again, this June disposing thousand and killing hundreds.
It’s not just wet, wind and heat, oh no, we can expect the winter weather to cause absolute chaos in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter of 2022 in Europe was very mild but—Can you imagine the chaos if a "Beast From The East was to form over Western Europe, or the US and Canada—Or worse, a bone-crunching Polar Vortex, with energy and gas prices going through the roof and millions of families having to choose between heating or eating?
This will be the scenario somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere this year. On top of the unbearable cold and hunger, a shortage of gritter drivers and skyrocketing petrol prices would collapse the entire road infrastructure of the US and Europe when the snow and ice arrived. Agriculture and farming would grind to a halt, adding to the shortage of supplies in supermarkets and other retailers.
But we now have sustainable wind farms providing us with cheap electricity, don’t we? Well, yes, in principle we do but last year they provided us with another mystery and are helping, not stopping energy prices soaring around Western Europe and is something called "global stilling!"Global stilling is a recent phenomenon whereby measurable wind speeds across the world’s continental surfaces have decreased by as much as 15% since 1980. Increased dependence on wind has suddenly become a major problem in Western Europe as wind farms struggle to find ‘wind,’ amid soaring global prices and energy bills.
According to NOAA, the United States alone saw an unprecedented 20 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster in the first nine months of 2021. Not only was September the fifth warmest September on record but large parts of the country also endured massive flooding from Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Nicholas, along with massive droughts and unstoppable wildfires. ( Urban areas became Unliveable!)
Back in June 2021, the UN issued a frightening “code red warning for humanity.” They claimed in their report there is “nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.” Yes, folks, that’s what the UN believe. As I said earlier, climate change has actually become, “climate changed!”—But, it’s still changing and changing faster than ever before.
What has happened around the world recently is unprecedented, but it is the speed at which our climate is changing that continues to surprise our governments and experts, no one could have predicted what is coming, even the million-dollar supercomputer models!
The fiery gates of hell have opened. In northeastern Siberia, a hundred active forest fires burned across 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres) of Sakha-Yakutia during the summer months of 2021, making it the worst affected region of Russia. Mr Putin decided the cheapest way to deal with the fires was to let them burn. In recent years, Russia has recorded record-breaking high temperatures that many scientists regard as a result of climate change. The hot weather coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules has caused a growing number of fires. Letting the fires burn themselves out, can take years!
A record heatwave fuelled devastating wildfires across much of the southern Mediterranean and eastern Europe in the summer of 2021. Hundreds of blazes broke out – many of them multiplying and exploding in size, scary, uncontrollable, unstoppable fires feeding off warm winds and tinder-like conditions. Italy, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Ukraine were all tackling dozens of wildfires. Scientists linked them largely to the intense heat - which they say is made more likely and more severe by global warming. (You don’t say!)
On the very day, the UN claimed Global warming is 'unequivocally' human-driven at an unprecedented rate, Southern Europe became the fifth continent in the last three years to be devastated by out-of-control record-breaking wildfires.
As we know, 2019/20 saw Australia lose 25% of its temperate forests along with a 60% summer crop loss and 3 billion animals killed or injured. It was the worst wildfire in Australia's history.
2019 and 2020 saw North America's West coast succumb to the worst wildfire crisis in their history along with the Amazon rain forest in South America and Russia’s Siberia—And every year, the fire season starts earlier and ends later.
California's Death Valley is known to be a hot place, I get that, but it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) on July the 13th, 2020—Only the fifth time in recorded history, that's only five days out of more than 40,000 on record. This year, 2021, Death Valley hit 126 deg F on July 7 and continued that stretch with 125 deg F-plus temperatures for eight straight days, which would be the second-longest streak in recorded history (tying eight days in 2013).
But that was not the whole story, a punishing heatwave lasted for two weeks across California and southern Nevada. Temperatures threatened the highest maximum temperature recorded on our planet: 134 degrees F, almost 57 deg C set July 10, 1913, and the summer of 2021 had barely begun.
Lake Mead the lifeline for nearly 30 million Americans and millions of acres of farmland once held trillions of tons of water and was the foundation of growth for the modern West, however, Lake Mead is now unrecognisable after years of devastating drought due to the record high summer temperatures and years of low winter snowpacks which have brought the lake to a critical low. The drought has continued unabated and California will have an enormous water shortage this summer.
Computer models can't keep up! Shell-shocked climate scientists are wondering how even super-computers, ‘worst-case scenario’ programmes failed to predict such furnace-like conditions so far north. An incredible, record-breaking heatwave hit Canada and the northwest US, even before summer had even officially arrived earlier last year. Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the recent extreme weather anomalies were not represented in global computer models.
It wasn't just heat last July either. More than 200 people died and hundreds more were reported missing in Germany, Belgium, and southern Holland after record amounts of rain burst river banks in many areas—But it was the speed of the rising water which caught most of the people unprepared. This torrential amount of rain had never been seen before in Germany—The UK was hit by a similar deluge with the government's advisory climate change committee having to tell ministers the nation was even, worse prepared’ for extreme weather events than it was five years ago, that's because these extreme events are increasing too rapidly for governments to react. (They are out of their depth, literally!)
Many other parts of the northern hemisphere suffered record-breaking heatwaves and fires, too many to list here. But it should serve as a reminder of the danger many of us are in without fully understanding the severity of the circumstances. Lack of understanding is exactly the reason why so many people died in Western Europe, Canada, and the United States last summer.
In late July 2021, Zhengzhou, in China saw an incredible ‘624 mm of rainfall’ on Tuesday the 20th, with a ‘third’ of the rain falling between 16:00 and 17:00 alone. This deluge unsurprisingly "smashed historical records”. It was apparently the highest amount of rainfall to hit China in ‘1,000 years.’ Of course, many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely. Henan province, home to about 100 million people, was issued its highest level of weather warning. Local authorities called the floods a "once in 100 years" event. Even so, millions of people were caught out. Along China's Southern coast, Tropical Storm Cempaka dumped tropical amounts of rainfall as the storm moved inland.
To make matters worse for China, Typhoon "In-Fa" equivalent to a category 2 hurricane was slowly rolling toward the country's eastern coast delivering even more tropical downpours for the beleaguered nation. To make matters worse the two typhoons hung around, something we have witnessed a lot recently with typhoons, tropical storms and hurricanes. It is something of a new phenomenon.
Extreme weather continues to wreak havoc across the planet with farmers, agriculture, wildlife, and humans all taking a massive hit on the chin from the unusual extreme weather. Unusual and unseasonal cold, record-breaking heat and droughts, wildfires, and killer floods are creating absolute havoc recently as climate change becomes, "CLIMATE CHANGED!"
It's not just warmth and wetness as we have mentioned. Last year, unusual freezing temperatures and frost harmed and damaged trees which will affect this year's coffee crops in many parts of Brazil. The country suffered all last year with drought and flooding and the cold snap is a final slap in the face for coffee producers.
Meanwhile, in the country's East, it hasn't rained for over a year.
Worse still, around 2,300 animals and 8,000 endemic plants are at high risk of extinction due to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. 35% of the Amazon rainforest has already been deforested or degraded. The Amazon rainforest is the lungs of our world and has a bad case of COPD.
According to a report by the Science Panel for the Amazon, some of the animals that live in the Amazon Rainforest include jaguars, anteaters, sloths, river dolphins, macaws, anacondas, glass frogs, iguanas, harpy eagles, poison dart frogs, and thousands of other animals, including birds, reptiles, and fish species, and are all in danger.
Cutting deforestation and forest degradation to zero in less than a decade “is critical,” the report said. 18% of the Amazon rainforest has already been deforested, according to the report – primarily for agriculture and illegal timber. Another 17% has been degraded.
Australia's southeast has seen everything recently, record-breaking wildfires, heat, drought, and even torrential flooding, however, the record-braking cold and heavy snow last July was the final nail in the coffin for many farmers.
According to Electrovers, on what was forecast to be Australia's coldest July day in recorded history, western and southern regions of NSW, hit historic lows of -7C (19.4F) and -8 (17.6C) registered. Farmers and citizens were also advised to take necessary precautions ahead of an unexpected cold snap which hit many parts of South Africa also in July 2021.
Millions of tons of dead fish have washed up along Florida's beaches since 2015 because of lethal red-tide algae blooms. The algae bloom causes sore eyes and throats for beachgoers not to mention the disgusting smell. A huge dead zone has opened up in the Gulf of Mexico where toxic waters enter the gulf from the Mississippi River killing all marine life.
Sea birds, as well as songbirds, are dying in mesmerising numbers, thought to be from lack of food. Last summer, it is thought more than 1 billion seashore animals died along the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada due to a record-breaking heatwave there. In parts of southern Canada and the west coast of the US, temperatures nudged, 50 deg C, 122 deg F. (Unliveable temperatures for most living organisms)
On the eastern side of the US, scientists are trying to find out just what mystery disease could be killing songbirds in their thousands. The disease was first recognised in the Washington DC area in May 2021. Since then countless birds have died leaving scientists scratching their heads.
In May 2021, an early heatwave in Baja Sur, Mexico caused the deaths of "thousands of tons" of sardines and other marine life. According to officials, nearly ’20 km of coastline was covered and the event was unprecedented in size.
In the summer of 2021, a lethal drought in Turkey is thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of baby flamingos. Drone footage showed thousands of dead chicks and infants buried in dry mud in the central province of Konya, with environmentalists blaming the deaths on climate change.
And, on-and-on I could go, but, I won’t because I know you get the message.
Whatever Autumn 2022 has in store for us—Massive food shortages, incredible inflation, unpayable energy bills, poverty, evictions, civil unrest another Covid variant and maybe even WWIII—Remember the biggest underlying threat to our survival as a species is climate change!