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28th February 2019

Which sun is shining on us?

Sophie Marriott argues that whilst we enjoy the unseasonable weather this week we should remember the climate change it is a symptom of is not just going to keep making things a bit warmer, but it is already causing devastating natural disasters.
Which sun is shining on us?
Photo: John LeGear @ Flickr

A delightful Springtime scene; young people relaxing on a patch of grass, sipping fruity ciders and eating whole-food picnics in buttery sunshine.

If you squint in a certain light you can even imagine the Ali G was a seaside cliff-face, or a rolling mountain range. The weather is lovely, but people do seem to think they’ve just been dropped into the centre of the Sound of Music.

I do hate to be a killjoy, but whilst the green spaces on campus have become countryside picnic spots, it should be pointed out that it should not be like this. At all.

February is a grim month, notoriously so. We plan in holidays specifically to cheer up what is otherwise the novelty of the new year being eroded by rain and mist. So of course this unseasonable warmth is celebrated, and the massive ecological crisis behind it is easy to scoff at.

“If this is global warming, bring it on!” To be honest, half of me is tempted to agree. Obviously, however this is not the overall effect of global warming.

In October last year an entire Hawaiian Island, was wiped off the map by a Hurricane. East Island was only a small spit of land, about 100 Acres in total, but it was a valuable haven for the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. More than anything it was a piece of our Earth which we have destroyed through our actions.

The warming of the oceans as a result of climate change is causing storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis to intensify. Making them more dangerous and putting more lives at risk. Luckily East Island was uninhabited, the Indonesian coast of the Sundra Strait wasn’t. 281 people died in the Tsunami in December, and over 11,687 were forced to leave their homes.

It is the same climate change which means you can eat ice lollies over your seminar reading and which is destroying lives and ecosystems around the world. This is not intended as a rant to tell you not to enjoy the good weather whilst it’s here.

I for one will be relishing the warmth; obsessively counting how few layers I’m wearing as if I score points for how few I dare to leave the house in. It is imperative, however, that we do not shy away from what is really causing this and the real trouble we are in.

The recent IPCC report which gave us 12 years to drastically change our emissions and energy consumption warned against letting global temperatures rise about 1.5C. At this temperature 50% fewer people would be facing disaster and displacement from rising water levels than if the planet was half a degree warmer. It could save coral reefs; 99% of which would die at 2C temperatures.

This isn’t even the worst case scenario, at the moment when the report was released, the world was on target for 3C of warming. This would be disastrous for the planet and the animals and people on it.

If we are going to enjoy this glorious weather, and we absolutely should, we also need to remember that the same sun beaming down on us is not so kind to others. So, lets not forget that it will likely turn its nasty side on us if we don’t do something now.

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