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In August 2013 we set sail from Stromness on our second Sea Change expedition, aboard Lerwick community boat The Swan, with a crew of 27 artists, scientists and informers. More ›

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The expedition crew of 27 includes a wide range of scientific and creative folk.
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Day 3, Blog 2: Weather and Climate, Cities and Seas

Cliffs north Shetland

Cliffs north Shetland

Our ship The Swan is stuck in harbour, victim of passing gale-force winds. Winds that are a regular ol’ weather event, not a mind-bending indicator of climactic events to come. But enough to change course.

Weather has always been more important outside cities, than in. Camping, canoeing, sailing or even putting up your laundry; everyday activities are affected by everyday weather. Rural minds are more keenly tuned to it. In cities, it affects where we drink our pint: patio or bar. Or whether we take our bike to work, or transit. Air-conditioners strain in hotter summers, but we can turn them up. And think ourselves protected from weather.

All that is changing, as weather becomes climate. Calgary’s floods, Toronto’s overwhelming downpour and of course, Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are harbingers of cities under siege. When statistics shift, extreme weather events – extended droughts, floods, and an onslaught of record temperatures – become hard evidence of climate becoming hostile.When record highs beat record lows by a margin of 3:1, those highs are climate change. Individual pixels become a pattern, eventually. We are there.

Yesterday, with artist David Buckland taking photos of projected phrases like “Natural Control” at night on pounding surf, we got a bit wet. Exhilarated wet. David’s combination of semantic and visual (my favourite is “Discounting the Future” in white light with a giant iceberg as background, taken on one of his Arctic adventures) jam simple but scary truthes into scenes of stunning beauty.

In the meantime, here in the Shetlands, we await calmer weather. Which in the here and now, at least, is on the way. We cannot say the same over the longer term for ur cities, agricultural belts, and shorelines.

Climate change is to cities as weather is to the sea. Something you can’t ignore.

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Author: Tom Rand

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Joins the expedition for week 2 and 3 Tom focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization, and public advocacy.
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