Weather, global warming, climate change, carbon footprints – all catch phrases which are guaranteed to open up many a debate at dinner tables around the globe.
Starting a conversation about the weather has been used universally as an icebreaker – or to fill in an awkward silence – “So what about this weather?”
And this was brought starkly home yesterday whilst standing at the checkout at the local Tesco’s, where the opening gambit from the assistant was “Och today is a bonny one after the winds we have had the past week, isn’t it?” I look outside, nod my head in agreement as there is a sliver of fleeting blue sky daring to show its face through the heavy snow laden clouds that are scudding crazily across the sky. “Oh yes, much better, not so much rain about either.” Behind me another customer was engaged in a long conversation in the soft lilting Scottish accent, expounding on how treacherous the last week had been.
The western shores of Scotland had been receiving a beating from the edges of 2 massive storms, Ciara and Denis. Not sure when storms A and B hit, but have it from the horse’s mouths – local residents in the area for many years “we have never seen weather like this before!” And from my short personal experience, the Scottish weather is not for the faint of heart. The force of the rain, hail, sleet and wind bring an energy of their own which can be terrifying but at the same time totally invigorating.
But there is a big difference between weather and climate – a lesson here for the President of the United States. It is about a measure of time. Weather is what conditions are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.
Decades ago, back in sunny South Africa, we were being warned about skin cancer becoming more prevalent due to the hole in the ozone layer – and as naïve laymen were told one of the causes was from the use of spray deodorants. As the years have passed, people as a whole are living on a more eco friendly basis and appears that the term “hole in the ozone layer” has morphed into global warming and carbon footprints. Same difference. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about young Gretha – she is correct – the world is in trouble.
Even with the doom and gloom, we still need to go on with our everyday lives and this I see daily here in this remote corner of the highlands where the fishermen go out religiously, their little boats fighting the waves being whipped up by gale-force winds on the usually tranquil loch, dressed in their oilskins – which always seem to be yellow – beanies, wellies and thick gloves, braving nature and all that she throws at them. We also – go about our daily business – but need to be mindful of the impact our lifestyles have on this amazing beautiful planet we call home.