WEIRD is the new normal, and it’s getting weirder. Events over the last week or so have confirmed this.
In Florida – warm winter escape for so many northern retirees - the “bomb cyclone” brought such cold weather that iguanas froze solid and began dropping out of trees.
On the other side of the United States, the wildfires that had been ravaging California destroyed vegetation leading to mudslides that killed 17 people with many still missing.
Closer to home, grey-headed flying foxes camping in Western Sydney boiled in the searing heat and they, like the iguanas, began dropping out of the trees.
These newsworthy events stand out against a background of strangenesses that are more subtle, less remarked on.
It’s still strange for me to hear the sound of corellas flying overhead in Sydney.
Their calls were the soundtrack of my childhood on the edge of the desert in Western Australia; they “shouldn’t” be in Newtown, where I stayed for a couple of days earlier this week.
These weirdnesses are the results of global phenomena – climate change and habitat destruction – but they always play out locally.
Places with all their characteristic sounds and smells are changing rapidly.
Here in Bathurst, we have something we haven’t had before: a colony of bats in our heritage park.
They’re starting to get annoying and smelly. The quick and easy response is to just get rid of them and try to get everything back to “normal”.
We could give it a go, but we need to understand that “normal” is never coming back.
Temperatures are rising, habitat is continuing to disappear, and desperate animals will continue to try to join us in the cool refuges that we’ve created for ourselves.
We like to tell us that such animals can go “somewhere else”; what’s more likely is that they’ll keep moving a few notches towards extinction.
There are no easy solutions. Sometimes solving one problem causes others.
What we have is an opportunity to learn about the new weird world we’re living in and think carefully about how we want to relate to it.
Bathurst Community Climate Action Network is liaising with the Climate Council to bring an expert speaker to Bathurst to give a presentation on changing ecosystems in the light of climate change.
We’re hoping this will happen in February or March. Stay tuned!