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Climate Breakdown: explaining it is easy when the examples abound

I’m teaching Climate Change in my first-year classes at the moment.

No matter what the topic, I always like to use examples to make things clearer to the kids – references to things in their own lives. I often refer to TV programs, movies, songs.

However, some of my references are dated – movies made before they were born, which, while classics, haven’t always been seen. In my English SL class last week, when describing the meaning of “a the height of one’s career,” I used a TV presenter, who first shot to prominence on the Spanish equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The show was called 50 for 15, referring to 50Million Pesetas – a currency that disappeared when the kids were toddlers.

But teaching Climate Change, I was struck by the fact that I don’t have to reach back very far to come up with an example of what I mean when I talk about the changes that are happening/ could happen in the future.

For example, California – it was burning a few weeks ago; latest news out of there is a terrible mudslide. Opposite types of natural disasters in a short timeframe.


Even here in this very city, though, the oscillations are becoming ever more obvious. And rapid.

I described how Spain was experiencing a drought late last year. Reservoirs were down to 10 or 20%. On the 3rd of January, I was in a jeans and a sweater, enjoying the sunshine. I was sent a video of a snake the same week.

This poor frog was squashed by a car just outside the village that night – what the hell was a frog doing out on Jan 3?


On the 5th, it started raining, then snowing.

I posted this photo on my facebook page, joking how I’d always wanted a garden with a little river flowing through it.


It was gushing out of the gully under the rocks you can see behind the fence in this photo.


And some of it was filling the groundwater so much that I’d springs popping up in the grass.

This looks like a cowpat, but it’s actually mud pushed out of the ground by the water flow.


Pamplona was covered in snow.


The aqueduct of Noain outside Pamplona.

The reservoirs refilled past 50% in a few days.

And now it’s mild again.

So the kids get it. They understand Climate Breakdown. They can hardly not when it is staring us in the face like the barrel of a shotgun.

Question is, what can they do about it?

Because the previous generation who knew about it haven’t been able to do very much, yet.


Trees and George Monbiot

A post I had on my former google site… I wanted to repost and the recent (ongoing) floods across the British Isles made George Monbiot’s recent posting about denuded hilltops due to sheep grazing practices reminded me of this connection between a post of his and a Poem I wrote years back.

Below is the poem and the original post….

            The Secret of the Thorn Trees

Why do the hawthorn and sloes carry such barbs

Across an Irish hedgerow, as if they were scrub

Bushes upon the dry savannah? Against caterpillars,

Or our diminutive deer and domestic livestock?

Or do they betray the absence from our landscape

Of what belong: buffalo, megaloceros andmastodon?

A poem I wrote in May of 2010, when observing some thorn trees in a park in Boston along the orange-line train tracks near Green Street.

I was reminded of it just this last week when I was reading through some blogs by George Monibot, a writer I have huge respect for:

He explains that our hedgerow and woodland trees are designed for the megafauna that he’d like to see return to Western Europe and the British Isles, rather than the roe and other deer species we have.

I can only concur with George  (I’d never claim to have had the idea first!)