This winter so far has been quite exceptional in Finland. Temperatures in this January have been nearly 10°degree higher compared to the normal average. Also, the country is divided in two: there is no snow in the southern parts of Finland whereas there is almost record amount of snow in the northern parts of Finland. Unfortunately, I happen to live on the crappy side of this line these days. Currently, we should have snow covering our streets and below 0 °degree temperatures freezing our assess. But no, it is just dark and wet. And almost every day I hear someone complaining about this.
But do we really have the right to complain? What bugs me the most, is that these changes in the local weather and climate should not be a surprise to anyone anymore. Really. Scientists have predicted and said that this will happen for almost 30-40 years now. We have been warned about this decades ago. However, people around the world have ignored these warnings and done nothing or very little to prevent or even control this thing from happening. So currently, we made our bed and now we have to lay in it.
One mild winter as such does not of course directly indicate to climate change as we have had mild winters in the north also in the past. But this and last winter might still give us a clue what the winters will look like in the future.
Last year (2019) was nearly 1° degree warmer than usual in Finland (Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2020) as the average temperature was approximately 0.9 degrees above the 1981–2010 average. The weather was out of the ordinary also in other ways too. The year started with a record-breaking storm, the amount of recorded lighting during summer’s thunderstorm season was lower than average, April was exceptionally warm at many places, December was milder and rainier than usual and the temperature was 3–6° degree higher than average. The last thing usually happens every 10-30 years, so this by itself is not again, out of the ordinary. However, these higher than average December temperatures usually happens every 10–30 years. And this time, the last time it happened, was in 2017. So, not that long ago. Overall, several new record temperatures were recorded, so things are changing.
How will climate change affect biodiversity then? Many separate and detailed blog posts could be written about this subjects alone, so I am not going to go into all the details here. Overall, climate change will have many adverse effects on biodiversity both at the local scale and at larger spatial scales. Local species richness will decrease due to losses of suitable climate area and habitat for native species. Hence, many species will disappear from their original range. Ironically, this does not necessarily mean that local species richness will immediately decrease at a certain location, because these locally lost species can be replaced by new species that benefit from the warmer climate and are able to expand their own native range. This, in turn, will lead to changes in the sizes and compositions of communities and probably cause changes in the functioning of these communities and whole ecosystems also. At the same time, at larger spatial scales, biodiversity will decrease as many species will go extinct due to the loss of the suitable habitats (e.g. Nunez, Arets, Alkemade et al. 2019).
After all this complaining, I am not here to say that I am perfect either. This sad weather got me asking from myself, that have I done what is in my power, to fight against the climate change? And the answer is sadly no. I painfully know, that some things I do, even every day, are not good for the environment and that I could and should do those things differently. So, here is my late New Year’s resolution: from here on I will try to cut down my daily carbon footprint by changing my behavior even a little bit. I will e.g. cut down my water usage, eat less meat, save electricity and drive my bike instead of my car whenever I can.
These things do not sound much when you know that only one international flight releases the same amount of CO2 that my normal driving does in the time span of ten years. However, doing something gives me, at least, the right to complain. Everyone can and should do something to help in this battle against the climate change. We don’t need to do things ”perfectly”. We all know that sometimes e.g. you just have to use your car. The point is, that we don’t need ten people to do things perfectly. We need millions of people to do even small things imperfectly when we want to make a change.
There is consensus among 97% of researchers worldwide that climate is changing and that this change is mostly caused by humans. Although we are likely not able stop the climate from changing anymore, we can still at least try to control the change. We, regular people, hold the key to change things for the better. What are you going to do?
Ps. The first photos were taken last week. Today we finally got some snow <3. Let´s see how long it will last.
~ K ~
Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2020, Year 2019 was nearly one degree warmer than usual. Press release archive: 2020, https://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/press-release/1230759293
Nunez, S., Arets, E., Alkemade, R. et al., 2019, Assessing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity: is below 2 °C enough?. Climatic Change 154, 351–365 doi:10.1007/s10584-019-02420-x