7th November 2012 will be recorded in my gardening annals as the first frost this year. A crisp layer of ice adorned patches of exposed vegetation in Regents Park as Rosa (the mini Schnauzer ) and I took the early morning constitutional. By the time I got up to the rooftop veg plot, only big droplets of dew on the purple sprouting broccoli, indicated where frost might have gathered overnight. But a glance at the max/min thermometer up there, which is tucked in above the compost bin showed nothing lower than 3'.
However, yesterday was far more important globally, as it marked, at least for me, a much more momentous occasion. I think history will record that the re-election of President Obama in the USA yesterday, will have been the first time that climate change policy tipped the balance in an election.
Obama has been much more forthright about these issues than his European counterparts. His victory speech yesterday included the pledge to release his country from their reliance on imported oil. It sounded suitably patriotic and got a big cheer from his supporters. They know, as well as he does, that our need for oil is horribly mixed up with our Middle East policy. We involved ourselves in Iraq and Lybia (both oil rich) but we shy away from involvement in Syria and Iran, where there isn't any oil.
But of course esoteric forward planning on energy does not win elections. It was hurricane Sandy that 'did it' for Obama. The horrifyingly vivid images of a city like New York torn apart by the weather, was a shocking reminder for voters over there, that we ignore climate change at our peril. Al Gore gained no political preferment for his campaign on climate change, only a few years ago. Now the situation is radically different. It is sad that it takes the demise of 80 people to open our eyes. But Sandy is not the only weather disaster to have hit the USA in recent years. It is this physical confirmation of climate change that seems to be changing opinions. I was really surprised that so many voters interviewed by the bbc, on both sides of the political divide, mentioned climate change policy as one of the deciding factors in Obama's victory. What a shame, because if these events are due to climate change, then it might already be too late to stay the tipping point.