Tuesday 25 July 2023

Warning—The post below is not for the squeamish! Let me put this into some kind of perspective, in just 15 years, 1 deg C, or 1.8 deg F has been added to the ave temp yearly, if that continues (and it will) temperatures of 65 deg C (149 F) will be here by 2038. We won't be here though because these conditions are unlivable for every form of life!

Elk Bath, an award-winning photograph of elk avoiding a wildfire in Montana, is credited to Wikipedia.

Well, I don't know if this news has crossed the pond yet, or indeed other parts of the world, but, Southern Europe and much of North Africa have been literally 'SET A LIGHT!' I have never, in my fifteen years reporting climate change seen so many fires breaking out, simultaneously, in my life, what I'm seeing since yesterday makes the fires in Australia, in 2019, California the following year and the ones in Canada last year look like a walk in the park! Ok, that quote is maybe a tad exaggerated, however, what is happening in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and many parts of North Africa at the moment is quite honestly frightening and disturbing.

It is so bad one reporter claimed on the BBC this morning, "July will be unlivable over here [Southern Europe] very soon!" The talking heads, experts and climate buffs' are describing the fires as 'Biblical,' how right they are—' for once anyway.' 

 As a Brit, my summer holidays are mostly spent in Southern Europe, France, Spain, Portugal or Greece, (for some reason I never visited Italy yet). I started The Big Wobble back in 2008, ironically to cover climate change. Let me tell you, back then any temp over 35 deg C, (95 deg F) even in Southern Europe was considered shocking. Fast forward just 15 years later, and temperatures are regularly approaching 50 deg C, (124 deg F) in the hottest months.

'Warning—The chapter below is not for the squeamish!

Let me put this into some kind of perspective, in just 15 years, 1 deg C, or 1.8 deg F can be thus, added to the average temp every year, it's clearly undeniable, if the warming continues as it has done in the last 15 years temperatures of 65 deg C  (149 F) or even higher will be quite possible. These temperatures are quite frankly unlivable, not just for us but all wildlife, including fish, plants, trees and more important agriculture. Our whole ecosystem will have collapsed long before we reach these temperatures, what I'm saying, is, quite simply, we are very quickly arriving (if we are not already there) at a tribulation period prophesied in the Bible thousands of years ago. Now then, here is the caveat for anyone reading this post, you do not have to be 'religious' to understand my warning here! We are quite literally 'shafted.'

Unbelievably, in my humble opinion, there are many global warming/climate change sceptics out there, however, instead of bombarding you with tons of science and graphics, which you can find on my blog, I will venture to bring even the sceptical reader a pragmatic take, dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin

Over the years, I have noted Holland is getting hotter, not just in the summer but in winter too. Below are my honest views on a tricky subject. Temperatures here in many parts of Europe, especially the south regularly endure temperatures exceeding 40 deg F, (104F). For countries further north such as Belgium, Holland, Germany etc, 40 deg C is extreme, however, has become more common recently, our infrastructure is not built for such temperatures, and most of us don't have airco for instance. In the UK, where I was born, I am used to cool, wet summers, so when I arrived here in Holland in 1995 I was pleasantly surprised by the long summers and wonderful sunshine. But even so, back then, if the mercury reached anything close to 30  deg C (86F) it was quite special and didn't happen very often.

Ten years later the highs were pushing 35 deg C (95F). In the two-thousand-teens, the high 30s were becoming much more frequent, then in the summer of 2019 the 40 deg C (104 deg F) ceiling was smashed when a temperature of 41.4 deg C, (106 deg F) hit Holland, breaking the all-time record which was set just the day before day before at 39.8 deg C. (104 deg F).
In my backyard, I measured an unofficial temperature of 41.4 in the shade, see the photo left. During the same week, hundreds of locations across Europe smashed all-time hot weather records by an impressive margin on the 26th of July 2019 with many locations beating records placed the day before on the 25th. What has happened this summer is even more unbearable and this time the heat 'domes', as they are now called didn't just happen in one country or even one continent—the record-breaking heat smashed records all over the Northern Hemisphere at the same time, from the US, Europe, the Middle East, Indo Pakistan, China and Japan which I believe is unprecedented.

Left, a palm tree in Spain is literally dying for a drink during the excessive heat of the day.

In the last 4 or 5 years, Europe has enjoyed summer temperatures as early as January, with temperatures here in Holland often in the high teens or low 20s, and in Spain, and Italy temperatures have hit the high 20s. 

When I arrived in Holland one of the first things I learned was ice skating, back then winters here in Holland could be very cold with temperatures reaching -20 deg C (-4F) sometimes. The canals in Holland would freeze over and the entire nation took to the ice in a skating frenzy. As the years rolled by the cold winters stopped and by 2010 the snow and ice had all but gone, winters have become incredibly mild, last winter, I can't remember the temperature dropping below 5 deg C (41F) which is great for the plants but not so good for the wildlife.

Now that may sound wonderful, to many and it is, but, there is a caveat, quite a big one actually—Hedgehogs and other animals don't hibernate. The effects and implications of this ‘unheard of’ phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but we should be worried. 

Reports of Hedgehogs, frogs and toads still being out in people’s gardens during winter are weird, they should have been deep in hibernation because they are cold-blooded animals. This was absolutely unheard of until a couple of winters ago.

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