June 28, 2019, by Brigitte Nerlich
Extreme weather talk: The sequel to the sequel
I have written quite a few blog posts over the years about extreme weather (and weather and climate). In 2013 I also published an article with Rusi Jaspal about extreme weather images… That seems now a long time ago and much better work is now done on the images front!
I wrote my last post on extreme weather in 2015 entitled “Extreme weather talk: The sequel”. In that post I continued to chart the rise of ‘extreme weather talk’ in major world newspapers and promised to look at things again in a couple of years.
It’s now 2019; so a bit more than a couple of years. But the recent heatwave in Europe made me think about extreme weather yet again. Last year I was worried about my elderly parents during the 2018 heatwave. This year I am even more worried, as they are not getting any younger. This year I got them a fan, against all their protests! They are delighted with the result. And I am feeling slightly less worried about them.
When you look at the new graph for extreme weather output, you can see that after a bit of a lull in extreme weather talk in the media after 2014, which corresponds to some extend with my own lull on this matter in my blog posts, things are picking up again now, and I don’t think they will go down again any time soon.
However, talk about extreme weather is cheap. The underlying suffering is great and not really reflected in the images with which we are bombarded in the news articles (and on social media); at the moment there seems to be more frolicking in fountains than actual images of the impact of the heatwave in Europe, but also India and elsewhere.
The French government seems to have learned lessons from the 2003 heatwave during which many people died and is implementing measures to alleviate immediate suffering. What is needed however is, as usual with climate change related issues (and we are talking climate change here), a global effort…..
We have talked about climate change (global warming) for a long time and done nothing much at a global level. We now talk about a climate crisis, global heating, and what I call climate chaos. Will that produce a change?
Soon we’ll only be talking about extreme weather, as that will subsume climate change. But by then things may be too late.