Saturday, 19 April 2008

Christmas Comes But Twice A Year

The weather has been really funny in the UK over the past few weeks. Towards the end of March, winter finally arrived with our first snow falls of the year. The snow only lay on the ground for about 36 hours before spring arrived. We had quite a warm spell for a couple of weeks, and then it turned cold again. Needless to say, snow made another return, didn’t stay for long (less that 12 hours where we live), and left us in our current position that is colder than we would like it to be.

This has had all sorts of interesting implications. To start with, we haven’t felt able to turn off the central heating. Normally, I would have expected the central heating to be unnecessary from about the end of March or the beginning of April. I wonder if this will have an impact on the economy later in the year if we are typical in our behaviour, and the public in general are finding that the soaring cost of energy is constraining their discretionary household expenditure. It is certainly helping to postpone the seasonal reduction in energy prices that we would expect at this time of year.

There are also far more subtle effects of the changing weather patterns that we need to account for. An interesting article in The Independent (see article) speculates about whether the dissolution of spring as a distinct season is the harbinger of a climate catastrophe. The article is a bit sensational – after all, that sells newspapers – but it does make an interesting point: is climate change affecting the pattern of the seasons? If so, then, as futurists, we might want to examine what the implications might be, and who stands to gain and lose from these changes.

A further article in The Independent (see article) starts to piece together a chain of causality in the natural world. If we accept the model that climate change will cause flora change, and that flora change will cause fauna change, then we ought to start amassing evidence of those changes. An interesting link between the flora and the fauna is the role of birds and insects in the environment, and it is here that we might find the weak signals of an emergent future to be more leveraged. This is an important area because birds and insects play an important role in the countryside. In a world that needs improved agricultural yields; dramatic changes in the biosphere need to be monitored carefully in terms of incidence and impact.

Can we now see how the issue of climate change will evolve to affect our lives? It is possibly too early to tell for certain, but the evidence is starting to accumulate in that direction. Of course, climate change is not of itself a bad thing. In our house, taking inspiration from C S Lewis’ Narnia stories, we felt that if winter were to come twice a year, then Christmas ought to come twice a year. Our first Christmas – a mush of gross consumerism – was at the end of December, and our second Christmas – a far simpler affair with just the family, no presents, and no commercialism – was at the beginning of April.

Strangely enough, I enjoyed my second Christmas better than my first. If that is a consequence of climate change, then climate change is not entirely a bad thing.

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