Wednesday, 5 November 2014

With weather like this - what's the worry?

What a gorgeous day. November the fifth - Guy Fawkes Night in Britain, a date I associate with damp, drizzle and darkness - and here in Warsaw the top temperature today was 18C on a cloudless, balmy day. A day that stirred my soul from dawn to dusk - then after sunset, my walk home from W-wa Dawidy station along ul. Dumki under an almost full moon - a memory to cherish for years to come. A balmy night.

Cloudless morning in the country: between Nowa Wola and Zgorzała

Cloudless morning in the country: approaching Zgorzała

Cloudless afternoon in the city: Złota 44 from 21st floor of the Lumen Building
Cloudless night in the suburbs: ul. Dumki, from ul. Kórnicka
If today can be like this, why can't it be like this the year round? Mazowsze, a local California or Mediterranean Riviera? What do we need winter for? So that we can pay Mr Putin for his gas to keep us warm?

Weather certainly affects us. Some of us a chronic meteopaths, suffering badly from darkness, low atmospheric pressure and damp. Others will find their spirits lifted by cloudless blue-sky days, especially when those days happen during a time of year when they are a rarity. How does November in Warsaw look? My blog, now in its eighth year, is a fair record. On the last day of November last year I noted that it was the third November in a row during which Warsaw had experienced zero snowfall. It's too early to say yet, but from the perspective of a day like this, winter seems a long way off still.

Local fellow-blogger and weather watcher, Student SGH, e-mailed me to say that the record high for Warsaw for November was 18.9C on 1 November 2001; we are unlikely to break that record, but maybe a monthly average record may fall. September 2014 was noted as the warmest on this planet since records began. Worth bearing in mind that the average daytime high for November in Warsaw is a mere 5.0C. Overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, the temperature did not even dip below double digits.

Cause for concern? After a bumper fruit harvest this year (a curse because Mr Putin isn't buying from Poland), the dry soil has become hard. And where the water-table is a long way beneath the surface, the Mazovian soil is turning to soft sand. At the weekend I noticed that on local off-road trails, some of the soft sand is deeper and finer than ever. If this drought continues into the winter, with minimal snowfalls, next year will be a poor one for agriculture.

The weather is like markets; a good spell is followed by a bad spell (a 'correction'). But whereas markets are the function of human activity (we buy more, or we buy less), weather isn't... Or is it?

The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic climate change is real; the only debates concerns whether it can be reversed as a result of us humans changing our habits when it comes to burning fossil fuels.

Are we now entering a period of runaway global warming, with new records for high temperatures set with alarming regularity? Possibly. What worries me it that there's nothing we can do about it. Even if you and I do all we can to keep the gas turned down low, use public transport or cycle to work, I fear that the collective influence of those who a) care and b) are prepared to do something about it, is limited by those who don't give a flying fig. However, I shall fight my own battle and strive to be low-emission and low-carbon - and in the very least, I shall save money, if not our planet.

Like Pascal's famous wager - if he believes in God, and God does exist, he's OK; if he doesn't believe in God, and God exists, he's damned - but if he believes in God, but God doesn't exist, he's not lost anything. If climate change is not man-made and there's nothing we can do, there's nothing lost by saving energy.

I feel a debate coming on in the comments!

UPDATE 6 November: Top temperature today 18.8C.

This time last year:
Call 19115: Warsaw Fix-my-Street

This time three years ago:
Vapour trails at sunset

This time four years ago:
Autumnal blues


student SGH said...

Hold your horses, mate!

I wrote you in the e-mail the temperature record was Warsaw is +18.9C, not +19.1C, the date is correct.

Besides, ogimet database clearly shows the temperature on 6 November topped +18.6C (official weather station for Warsaw is on Okecie Airpot).

Would anyone dare to call those records into question?

Michael Dembinski said...

Ah yes - corrected. I sourced from Wikipedia and confused the two.

One way or another, 18C or 19C is way higher than Warsaw's average daytime high, which is 5C.

Some rain at last on Saturday! A whole day of solid rain. The soil must be happy.