4 out of 5 stars
As I write this review the sky outside is a stunning blue and there is not a single cloud in sight. It is a spring day, but it feels a little odd for this time of the year. When I step outside though, there is still a chill in the air that reveals that it isn’t quite summer yet. Whilst it is once to have it bright, it feels a little early in the year for weather like this.
As the grip of climate change bites, what were the familiar seasons, seem to be blurring into each other much more than I remember in my short time on this earth. Gone are the stark differences of cold winters, warm springs and hot summers and autumns where the leaves turned colour ready for the first storm to blow them all off. Now we have warm wet winters and cool wet summers, and freak weather events that can strike in any month.
These themes of a world out of sorts are what Shute explores in this book. He heads to regions where flooding is becoming more prevalent and once in a century events are now happening every 15 years or so. He speaks to farmers who have been noting the day that swallows arrive for decades and now seeing how the dates they appear in the sky are a month earlier than they used to be. Spring is the time that this is most visible, it used to travel up the country at 1.2mph and now moves around 2mph and all the plants and animals are struggling to keep up.
I liked this a lot. Shute’s prose is crisp and to the point, probably his background as a journalist has helped with this and it doesn’t feel like a nostalgic book, more of a careful warning of the changes we are forcing on the world. The points that he makes and reiterates all the way through are made as bluntly as he can; i.e. that we are in the very middle of a crisis that is not going away. If there was one flaw with this, I felt that the inclusion of his own quite sad personal story didn’t really fit with the rest of the book.