I grew up in Melbourne where the weather is a constant topic of conversation. However, it was only after returning to live again in my home town after some 6 years away I realised just how obsessed Melbournians are by a topic I suggest is second only to Australian Rules Football as the most popular conversation.
Melbournians reference the cold, rain and ice wind with the same level of concern they do the dry, the heat and the hot winds.
Every winter is longer than the last and a hot summer results in pessimistic predictions for an extra cold winter.
But, make a critical comment to a Melbournian about their weather and 'we' feel obligated to quickly defend it.
It has just turned cold in Brisbane, well cold in that I am writing, sitting in an outdoor coffee shop at 10am and it is 19 degrees. It was however 9 degrees a few hours ago. And guess what, every greeting, comment and reference today is about how cold it is.
A few weeks ago the conversation was about how summer was lasting longer than usual and in a few weeks’ time it will be that summer has come earlier than usual. Each year, it always is.
Brisbane is situated in a sub tropical zone and guess what, it gets hot and humid.
Melbourne is much further south and funnily enough, the winters are chilly, the wind can come off the southern ice caps and the weather is often variable.
In reality, there are very, very few events where the weather conditions are a surprise. Melbourne often has a cold Christmas Day and Brisbane regularly has a winter thunder storm.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, these not uncommon events are rolled out as evidence of climate change followed by the inevitable debate as to it being induced (or not) by mankind. All us urban dwelling, city living arm chair experts use such local ‘not uncommon’ weather events as an excuse to indulge in quasi intellectual debate about the legitimacy of the science and the impact it is having on our lives.
Perhaps true reality is what is happening in our world as the area of sea ice reduces, ice caps melt and glaciers retreat.
Maybe we are just too protected from reality, ensconced in the insularity of our busy lives.
Climate change is not a winter thunder storm or a cold Christmas Day.
However, until we elevate our thinking past the weather forecast for the next 24 hours, our political leaders will lack the courage to make meaningful, long term policy settings. As always, the power is in the hands of the voter, we just need to expand our horizons and use that power.