Climate crisis or just a hot summer?

Opinion piece by SCGP member Libby Ruffle

Waldringfield resevoir in the heatwave
Waldringfield resevoir almost dried-out in the heat. Please note: no small dogs were harmed in the taking of this photograph!

As we approach what’s predicted to be the hottest day on record in the UK, I’ve been interested in – OK, annoyed by! – the local media’s coverage of the heatwave.

There are obvious, valid comparisons between 2018 and 1976.  A mere three-year-old at the time, with no personal recollection of the scorching summer and significant drought, I’m nonetheless polite enough(!) to allow for some detailed and lengthy reminisces (zzzz…) and the painstaking mulling over of parallels between then and now…

Acutally, I welcome those concrete comparisons, which give us a necessary and valuable insight into trends and changes. But what I won’t concede to certain of my elders, is the pronouncement that we ‘mustn’t jump to conclusions’ about climate breakdown.

The East Anglian Daily Times printed a gentle, nostalgic article by Paul Geater on Monday, in which he fondly recalled – yes, you guessed it – the summer of ’76.

But nowhere in the paper was there any reference to climate change.

In a fit of heatstroke-prompted insanity, I fired off a letter. (It’s a well-known fact that writing to the papers is the first sign of madness. But, reader, I was cross. And I still think it’s irresponsible journalism…)

Paul Geater’s response (if I can claim it as a response, which is pushing it!) was to say that we must wait until next year before considering this summer part of a global warming trend.

To be fair to Paul Geater, his sentence was cut: “I’m not sure that trying to see individual weather events through the prism of global warming,” he wrote. Erm…  Well, something’s missing there, so that point of his argument is lost.

The question is whether to reply. I soon get bored when two readers, or a reader/journalist, get into a lengthy debate – or rather, a reentrenchment of their own positions. But other readers probably enjoy the tos and fros of an argument.

My conclusion is that if Mr Geater doesn’t think we already have enough ‘long-term trend’ evidence of climate breakdown, then it will take more than a series of readers’ letters to convince him otherwise; or for him to show me enough proof to convince me that I’m mistaken. The platform would be several hours face-to-face discussion. And even then, I suspect we might ‘agree to disagree.’

In the meantime, he has a column to write, and I need to research water purification systems…

Is there a responsibility to counter his words in print, to provide other readers with the opposing view? Perhaps. But, be honest, have you ever been moved by a letter written by anyone other than an admirably wise, fellow reader with whom you entirely agree…?!

We welcome opinion pieces from all SCGP members

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