Is it climate change?

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth – especially on social media – over the recent big waves and high tides which hit South Africa’s south coast on Friday and Saturday. The combination of spring tides and a moerse end of winter storm led to damage all the way from Cape Town to Durban.

It had the climate change people claiming that it was likely down to climate change, and the climate change deniers… er… denying it. It’s all in the name.

The fact is that neither party can honestly prove anything.

One can’t pin down the huge storm surge on the weekend directly to a change in the climate. As mentioned above, there were a combination of factors which led to the flooding and the damage that we saw.

But equally, it’s absolutely no good saying that it wasn’t down to climate change just because “there was a storm surge 10 years ago”*. Climate is a very long term thing. You’re thinking of weather.

Climate refers to the long-term regional or global average of temperature, humidity and rainfall patterns over seasons, years or decades. While the weather can change in just a few hours, climate changes over longer timeframes.

The fact is that while no one single weather event is directly or wholly attributable to climate change, climate change means that we will see an increase in the number of these sort of events.
They will happen more often, and they may be more severe.

It’s not rocket science. (That’s an entirely different discipline.)

Look, if you will, at the heat in the UK. We covered this last year, when it got ridiculously hot. That was very definitely weather, but if you take a look at the trends over several decades you can see that hot days are getting hotter, and they’re getting hotter, quicker. That’s the climate, so we can expect even hotter days in the future, even more often.

Of course, then there’s the thorny subject of whether we (mankind, humans) are responsible for this change in the climate (that does or does not exist, depending on your intelligence). Yeah, I think that everything points towards us having a hand in it. But even if it’s not all down to us, why wouldn’t you want to make the world a bit of better place by not chucking out quite as many toxic fossil fuel fumes, even if it’s just because they’re toxic? With the lovely byproduct of less CO2 and less climate change.

Keep going like we are, and the only good thing that can happen is that a few more awful restaurants might end up in the Indian Ocean. And that’s scant reward considering the horrific consequences for the rest of the planet.

* which washed away a terrible restaurant in Struisbaai and almost actually made me believe in some higher power.

Last day out

It’s Granddad’s last day with us today (in Cape Town, that is. He’s heading back to Sheffield tonight – we’re not shipping him off to Dignitas or anything). I asked what he’d like to do while the kids were at school and he said that a coffee somewhere by the sea would be great.

Kalk Bay seemed to fit the bill, in that it wasn’t as full of annoying surfers as Muizenberg would have been, nor as dull, dreary and geriatric as Fishhoek on a Monday morning.

It was high tide and the remains of the swells from the past few days were still coming ashore, making for some entertaining scenes over the breakwater, so we togged for a while then wandered along for calamari and chips at the Brass Bell, where the friendly waiter moved our table to avoid the worst of the sea spray coming into the restaurant.

Then it was back around via Chappies and a rather tame Southern Rock Agama (Agama atra), then back to just 6000 miles from civilisation… just in time to pick up the kids from school.

A morning (and part of the afternoon) very well spent, and hopefully some decent last minute memories for the long trip home.


IMPORTANT NOTE: These photos are not to scale. The agama is small, but the breakwater is far away. (reference)

Mainly waves and no RBOSS

There’s a problem. Such was the weather yesterday (very sunny; very, very windy), that there was nothing to photograph except amazing waves, and just so much light and colour that it looks like I’ve RBOSSed everything.

Not the case, I promise.

If you’ve not been to Cape Town, I can completely understand that when you look at these images, you immediately think that I have gone mad with the sliders in Lightroom. I would never.

I remember being utterly astonished by the clarity of the light and the colour when I first came over here. Not every day, obviously – it’s grey and miserable today. I’m sure that there are other places in the world with equally amazing conditions, but I haven’t been there yet.

But I swear that yesterday, the turquoise really was that turquoise, the white honestly that white and the other colours genuinely were whatever colours they were. If only we could have enjoyed them without our eyeballs being ripped out by the wind and assaulted by the sand.

Still, great day out…

(Oh, and I know that I probably shouldn’t have monochromed that one photo, but I just have a nagging feeling that I’m going to need a dramatic B&W wave photo one day. As you do.)


“You’ve Never Seen Waves Like This Before” proclaimed the title of the WIRED article.


And it goes on to detail some of the photography of Rachael Talibart, who:

…remains both frightened and fascinated by the sea, a tension she explores in her new series, Sirens, which was recently shortlisted for a Sony World Photography Award and will go on exhibition at the Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts in September.

Here are a couple of examples.

Wonderful. So much power and energy.

Thanks to an extra high tide, a strong wind, and a sun that kept breaking through the clouds, the waves were large and crashing—and perfectly lit. Lying on her back, her feet to the ocean, Talibart used telescopic lenses and an ultra-fast 1,000 frames/second shutter speed to capture the towers and troughs of foam-flecked seawater.

Umm. An “ultra-fast 1,000 frames/second shutter speed”?

So, a 1/1000 exposure then? Woo! Speedy! [/sarcasm]

But fair play: the results are incredible.

Bring on the next Cape storm and look out for me lying on Sea Point Prom.

Wales, last year

Incoming from a correspondent – a photograph which includes a lighthouse.


Regular readers will know that I’m a sucker for a photograph which includes a lighthouse, and this is no exception. I’m told that this is Porthcawl in the midst of a 2015 winter storm. Whether that’s correct or not (looking at images having googled ‘Porthcawl’ would suggest that it is), it’s an amazing picture.

While all the focus is drawn to the dramatic, angrily competing seas centre stage, the nearly insignificant red light of the lighthouse plays a wonderful cameo on the left.

Very nice.

Thanks A Correspondent