What a lovely few days it’s been: clear skies, sunshine, warm air, the first blossoming flowers and buzzing insects. It’s as though spring had arrived, if only it wasn’t the end of February. Did you enjoy this weekend carefree or did it give you the feeling that something wasn’t right? As much as I enjoyed being outside in the sunshine, I had exactly this sense of strangeness. This weather just didn’t feel right for this time of the year. Was this a sign of climate change?
As most of you have probably heard, weather is not climate change. However, weather extremes are likely to occur more often as average temperatures increase. Yesterday, it was announced that this spell had broken a record, and not an insignificant one: For the first time on record, temperatures exceeded 20 degrees in winter (December to February). And today, this record was broken again. In parts of the UK, temperatures have been 10 degrees above average for this time of year.
This event is a sign of a changing climate and we can be glad that it was quite a pleasant sign. Weather extremes will become more common under a changing climate and can have devastating consequences. In summer, heatwaves cause droughts, wildfires and can directly cause deaths. At the other extreme, storms and heavy rainfall events cause floods.
Isn’t it fitting that this warm spell nicely illustrates the cause of the problem? The fact that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere lead to rising temperatures. Thus, these unusually warm temperatures are not only a sign of climate change, but also the collective impact we have on this planet. Now that climate change is becoming tangible, I’m even more motivated to reduce my environmental impact. I hope that in one way or another, it will also inspire you to make more sustainable lifestyle choices. This is our chance to take action on climate change and limit global warming for us and our children.