Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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28 Mar 2014

When Luis talked to his parents about climate change


Today we have a guest post from Luis, an active member of a Transition Initiative in Portalegre em Transição in Portugal.   

“We are in a semi-rural area, with a quite old population. There are still a lot of people we know who lived all their lives in direct contact with nature and, often, in my group, we tell stories about enlightening conversations each one of us had at a certain point with old people about changes in climate and its effects around them.


Some of these conversations talk about strong changes, strong effects of the lack of respect human beings express towards Earth. We thought at various times that it would be good to capture one of these conversations and I finally did it! I recorded a conversation with my parents: they are in their eighties, still living in a village near Portalegre and they talk about the changes they perceive in nature, throughout all the seasons they lived. 

I will not do a full transcription – I will just share with you some of the highlights of the conversation, I hope it is ok!

I introduced the conversation by saying that we all currently hear talking about climate change but the real question I would like them to answer is if, during their lives, they sense a change in the climate and in the nature. My father answered in a very assertive way confirming that there are changes. He thought, seconded by my mother, that the strongest sign of change he sees is the way now weather is extremely unsettled in the various seasons.


Seasons are not as well defined as they were before – weather varies extremely one day to the next, now… My parents have the clear impression that changes in weather, as seasons went by, were more smooth and permanent. My mother thought that there is a big difference in the frequency of thunderstorms – in the past, thunderstorms were very common. Not anymore. 

I asked them about animals and plants. Maybe not as clear and the changes my parents identified in the weather, but they still pointed out some interesting effects: my father said that he has the impression birds are afraid to sleep in the fields. In the end of the day, birds all come to spend the night in the villages. Now, if one walks out, in the nature, when the night falls, you do not hear the noises of the animals. They find that very strange. After I questioned about variations in bird species, they said that now there are many many more storks than before. They are not migrating anymore. Most of them stay all year round here.

Concluding the conversation, my mother pointed out how important is the experience and the empirical knowledge of local people, that changes are not clear in every element of rural live but the truth is that they feel, in the weather and in their body, that, yes, climate changed. 

It might be a good idea to keep capturing these conversations. It can be a rich collection of knowledge.