Depressing reading

Okay, I was horribly overtired (I am, I have decided, just a little too old to do all-nighters by which I write 4,000-word academic essays between 11pm and 5am….), but reading about the bulbs of Kew Gardens just about reduced me to tears this week:

At Kew Gardens, where they have been measuring plant blooming times since the 1950s, horticulturalists have been staggered by how early some varieties have arrived this month.
The first daffodils opened at Kew on 16 January, a week earlier than 2007, and 11 days earlier than the average for this decade for that type of the flower. Crocuses also set a record at the gardens, flowering on 24 January, 11 days ahead of the decade average….
Since the 1980s, plant blooming times have come forward at a steady pace, but according to Ms Bell, such a leap forward from year to year is “completely unprecedented”.

Okay, it is finally turning cold again in Britain – I am going to have to bring out the winter wardrobe that I shoved to the back of the cupboard about two weeks ago as “too hot” – but this is all scarey climate change stuff. (And this only demonstrates the ecological damage the unseasonal conditions are doing – all of those plants, insects –someone was telling me the other day they say a fly on the street, in London, in January, birds etc are going to suffer horribly from the variation.)

It would be nice to think it is not too late to avert catastrophe, but I’m finding it increasingly hard to believe.

But perhaps there won’t be any civilisation left for other reasons. Was reading today about how Times journalists are being told how to write by search engine optimalisation. Depressing.


  • Claire
    February 2, 2008 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    Increasingly these days I’m getting that last day before starting a diet feeling. You know what I mean? “Mmmmm, I should make the most of this chocolate cake.”

    And what’s the chocolate cake? The way we live now in our heedless couldn’t care less about global warming world.

    I saw trees doing some very odd things with regards to leaf dropping last autumn. I don’t understand why more people aren’t panicking.

  • amphibious
    February 5, 2008 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    Nature will adapt. Whether we, the instigators of the problem, will find it pleasant, uncomfortable or survivable is a question that will only be know by our grankids, if any.
    East Coast OZ, esp Sydney, has had its entire average February rainfall in the first 4 days.
    January was the wettest since records began, and one the coldest.

  • February 5, 2008 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Tuscany. My cats went after the first hatched lizards last week. Unheard of! Flowers are too early, too, by at least six weeks. With flies, bees, butterflies, the lot.

    Will we have a sudden cold snap? Last year, spring arrived in early February. I’m afraid it’s happening again.

  • david ware
    February 8, 2008 - 5:05 am | Permalink

    Here in Arkansas, we’ve had a schizoid pattern of warm days and bitter ones. Buds are out on many ornamental trees, it will be sunny and 60 degrees this weekend… and yes, we (and neighbouring states) had a hell of a run of cyclones this week. Some of my students had houses or sheds damaged by the twisters, so are trying to put parts of their lives back together.

    No daffs blooming, though mine are shooting up from their peat moss pots. I wonder–what might be the “mineshaft canary” plant species for indicating too-swift climate skews?

    Meanwhile, our state Green party is doing what it can–in an election year, mind– to avoid being mistaken for a serious political movement. No real canvassing, no leaflets, no precinct work…grr. Talk about depressing. But it’ll be good two-wheel weather this weekend, so I’ll take some small consolation in getting out the road bike and locking it as I please–no helpful wardens guilting us on our security technique here.

  • February 21, 2008 - 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Nature will adapt in part through mass extinctions, so I don’t find that especially comforting. I learned to love bulbs walking the lanes at the Kew Gardens — there are crocuses in my yard because of Kew. Daffodils need a certain amount of time in cold conditions to flower, if you try to plant them where it’s too warm, you have to dig them up and store them in special fridges in the summer.

    We’re allowed to mourn beloved landscapes that are lost forever due to climate change, I hope.

    I for one breathed a mighty sigh of relief when the crocuses didn’t bloom any earlier here in NC than they did last year. But of course it’s not about one-year results: it’s about long-term trends. And they are frightening.

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