We’ve been looking at hard white frosts since before Christmas but unlike much of the country, we’ve not had much snow. Enough to be a nuisance and make driving on the estate roads something to take slowly but not enough to imprison us in the house.
We’ve really become used to mild winters so a normal winter comes as a shock. I figured I’d have chance to catch up on some winter jobs, but in these temperatures even the potting shed is out of bounds for more than a couple of minutes.
Of course, this harsh winter isn’t without an upside. The slug and bug population will be drastically kicked back for a start. Those who had finished their digging over before the winter struck will benefit from a really fine tilth when the thaw finally arrives.
According to my Norwegian pal, we’re also providing most of Scandinavia with a great source of amusement. He’s got a rural wooden built house triple glazing and a foot of insulation in the walls, about 2 miles out of town.
The road is solid ice and the fields are covered in 6 foot of snow but life goes on as normal for them. The cars drive along on their snow tyres, the children head to school on their skis and he clears his drive with his snow blower.
So when we get a couple of inches and grind to a halt, the Scandinavian news closes on a ‘let’s laugh at the Brits’ piece.
On a more serious note, climate change. I’ve heard a lot of comments about how this winter disproves global warming. The answer is that weather is what we see out of the window and climate is what we see in the statistical record.
The real problem with climate change is that we just can’t predict the weather. I don’t mean the day to day stuff, I mean the winter might be so mild as to resemble spring one year and arctic cold the next. Summer can be roasting and drought one year but the next more like a cold monsoon.
We’ve really got to be more adaptable, sow early, sow on time and sow late in the hopes that one crop will succeed. Be more prepared than a troupe of boy scouts for whatever the weather throws at us, if we’re going to get decent crops.
This is all very well for the gardener but not really on for the farmer. There’s ominous signs on the horizon for food production, and not just because of climate change. The world’s population continues to increase. According to the UN, a 47% increase from the 2,000 population of 6.1 billion to 8.9 billion in 2050 is the most likely scenario. The best case is 7.4 billion and the worst is 10.6 billion.
They’re not making any more land, which is why the Chinese are buying up vast tracts of Africa to grow food for their population.
Here in Britain we’re now importing gas as we use it faster than the dwindling North Sea can supply.
Now I really don’t expect to be alive in 2050. I may live to 95, but it’s not that likely. I do expect my daughter will be around though. What the world will be like then, I don’t know. I suspect growing your own will be a matter of survival by then and we’ll be digging for life if not victory.
I really didn’t intend my first post of 2010 to be so gloomy! Still, enjoy the snow whilst we have it – there’s little else to do – and it will melt soon enough.
Here’s a belated Happy New Year to you!