No we’re not! But I would very much like one – or at least one full week of something resembling normal summer weather. For those of us that spend three months a year in more or less constant dusk (November through January are HEAVY at this latitude) summer is when we recharge our mental batteries, our A&D vitamins, our joi de vivre, our … We’re so sun fixated up here that come March you’ll see a number of people leaning against walls holding a sheet of aluminium foil under their chins, to better reflect the precious sunlight onto faces that look almost grey with winter pallor. (Okay, so you don’t see that quite as often these days, what with people becoming more informed about skin cancer and stuff like that, but still…)
So far, the summer is not doing all that well. Too cold, too wet, too windy sort of sums it up. No wonder people scoff at the concept of global warming – here we were thinking this would mean Mediterranean climes on the Baltic Sea, but so far nothing of the kind. Maybe that’s good, as such a development would reasonably mean the people living in Greece or Spain would have to add yet another stone to their presently far too heavy burden, namely spreading deserts in lieu of arable land. Based on these last few months (years) of erratic weather – generally of the wet and cold kind – it seems reasonable to conclude that Global Warming is an empty threat, something tree huggers all over the world are crying “wolf” about. Or???
Statistical facts seem to support a warming theory – the global temperature has been on the rise for the last decade or so.Difficult to buy into when you can’t hear yourself in the car due to the hailstones peppering the windscreen… Inundations, massive rainfalls, freak storms – all of these phenomena can be chalked up to the warming theory, at least according to its adherents. But where is the heat? Why have the snowfalls these last few years been massive if the Earth is slowly growing warmer?
“Duh,” says the enviromentalist. He sighs and points at a point just off Greenland. “This is why.”
“So Greenland is having a heatwave?” I ask. It makes me feel very sorry for the poor Inuits who may still be living in igloos – however a minute minority they may be.
In reply he shoves a picture across his desk. A swimming polar bear, with nothing but wide water all around. Poster material, this bear, dark eyes for ever fixed on the humans regarding the photograph of his struggle to survive in an ocean devoid of even the smallest iceberg.
“He’d say there’s a heatwave going on,” my enviromentalist says. I give the drowning bear a long look. Probably.
“Anyway,” the enviromentalist goes on, “what I mean is that the erratic weather patterns are caused by this.” Yet again he taps at an undefined point close to Greenland, and it dawns on me he’s referring to the Greenland Pump. (I’m not entirely uneducated; this is the natural cycle of warm water flowing from the Gulf of Mexico northwards due to warmer surface water being sucked under by the ice cold waters further down, this having to do with salinity levels, I think. Keeps the people in Scandinavia and the UK relatively warm ) “The warmer it gets, the weaker the pump,” he goes on, sounding quite satisfied. “The weaker the pump, the colder it gets in your neck of the woods.”
“Ah.” That doesn’t sound too hopeful. Bye, bye orange groves and olive trees, hello compact pine forests and winters that last for six months or so.
“Besides,” he says as a parting shot, “Greenland is having a heatwave – just so you know.” He rushes off, raincoat flapping round him.
I stick my feet into my clogs and go outside in my rain drenched garden. I remember summers spent outside from early morning to late at night, endless days of sun and play, of running barefoot through knee-high grasses and hiding under juniper bushes during extended games of hide and seek. I recall lying for hours under the birch tree, staring up at the blue of the sky through the rustling foliage, of eating ice cream that melted so fast half of it ran down your hand. In my memories, all those long ago summers were warm and sunny. Now it’s rainy and cold, and I haven’t even as much as dipped a toe in the sea this year. I settle down to deadhead my roses, not because they’ve flowered and faded, but because the buds are rotting in the rain. Most depressing.
If this is global warming, then please tell me what to do to make it stop. Sadly, I don’t think anybody will, for the simple reason that the powers that be do not agree. Global Warming is a fact, say some. Humbug, snort others – often the same people who see no problems in deforesting in the name of progress, who laugh at the idea of the cod risking extinction and who shrug when told just how many species go extinct every year.
At times, I try to convince myself this global warming has nothing to do with us, that it’s simply a normal variation in the Earth’s temperature. Mostly I don’t succeed. Seven billion people are a major strain on this poor planet of ours, and what with our cars and machinery, our industry and fuel consumption, our constant hunger for more of everything, I fear it’s all our fault. Yupp: The polar bears drown because of us, the koalas starve to death because of us (the eucalyptus trees are negatively affected by emissions), the salmon asphyxiates – all because of us.
“Be ye fruitful, and multiply,” God said according to the Bible. I wonder if at times he regrets that little instruction. I wonder if at times he is tempted to snuff it all out and begin anew – without us.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
True, no? And people, I want my kids, your kids, our great-grandchildren to discover for themselves just what a magical place this blue, bright planet of ours is. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to try and do my bit. Will you?