A few weeks ago, I got to go watch the newest movie, Weathering with You by the acclaimed producer, Makoto Shinkai. If you are keen on the Japanese movie enterprise, you might remember him from the worldwide-hit movie, Your Name.
I must say, Shinkai has done it again. Other than being hopelessly biased since the setting of the movie is in Tokyo, I completely took to Weathering with You. It beautifully incorporates the recent concerns of climate change and what that could look like to us in the near future. Plus, the way the story unfolded thematically was also satisfying. Of course, this is a work of fiction, and it takes many scientific elements at ease. But there was one thing in particular that made me wonder. Can it really snow in mid-August in the Northern Hemisphere? And if so, can it happen in places with a lower latitude, even around 35th parallel north?
The Short Answer:
And quite obviously, there are quite a lot of places in the Northern Hemisphere with snow during summer. There’s even snow in places like Hawaii! (Of course, one should note it only does so on the higher mountains, and in winter.) There’s still lots of snow on the mountainside in places like Switzerland (about 46 ° N) and France (about 45 ° N). And of course, we can’t completely forget our own mountains in the BC.
The Long Answer:
But it’s quite true that snow is harder to come by on flatter places. There’s a record of snowfall in Alberta in August, but that was more than eighteen years ago. (It is true that in Alberta, there’s usually snow within mid or early September.) Also, there’s been less snow all around the world.
So another question one might find oneself asking is this: Does the absence or the presence of snow signify climate change?
First of all, we might want to consult the meaning of the word climate change.
According to NASA, a clime change is:
- A change in the usual weather found in a place. This could be a change in how much rain a place usually gets in a year. Or it could be a change in a place’s usual temperature for a month or season.
- Climate change is also a change in Earth’s climate. This could be a change in Earth’s usual temperature. Or it could be a change in where rain and snow usually fall on Earth.
Weather can change in just a few hours. Climate takes hundreds or even millions of years to change.
What does it have to do with us? Well, the National Geographic claims that it has basically changed a person’s life! Many other more acclaimed scientists have shared this view. Various research papers I’ve looked at also attributes the strange snow and equally bizarre weather to climate change.
But wait. There’s more. It’s certainly true that the climate has been turbulent and we are held accountable for some of our actions. Yet I can’t help but recall a remark by one of the characters of Weathering with You that stayed with me. (I mean, there are too many wonderful quotes from the movie to put in one place, but still.)
The temple keeper says: “First of all, people and their ‘first of all the recorded cases’! I say it’s quite shameful. Observation? First of all recorded cases? Just when did that record start? Perhaps a little over hundred years.” He goes on to explain how the ancient people knew it was important to treat the earth as their temporary home that was being lent to them, to take utmost care of it.
I thought That is an amazing insight. If more people took a little more care and thought to the world around them, climate change may not be such a big problem. In fact, the problem could very well be the individual attitude towards the environment, not the environment itself.
So whether it’s snowing in mid-August (which isn’t too common), or if it’s not snowing at all in winter, we don’t need to panic. We simply need to take a little more care with the world around us. The next decade’s climate is up to you.