What does climate change taste and smell like?

What does the rain taste like?
What does the rain taste like?

Does climate change have a taste and a smell? Will it create memories in years to come? While working at the Save the Redwoods League I worked on a number of projects with collaborators looking at both how climate has changed over the past 30 years and projections of how it might change in the future. One change that is already underway is we’re getting more late spring rains. Ask any forester in the north coast of California and they’ll tell you that late rains are reducing the logging season as roads stay wet longer.

This came back to me this past sunday morning. Saturday had been hot with a muggy tinge in the air. Sunday dawned overcast and muggy with a foreshadow of rain to come. Quite unlike what I am used to in the Bay Area — more like a humid muggy summer day in England when I was growing up. The clouds even looked the same. And there it was. Rain coming down, gently at first and then harder. Soaking the deck. I opened the door and encouraged my two older boys to step outside and smell the air – the unmistakable smell of rain after a hot spell. They then got the idea of trying to catch the raindrops in their mouths, curious what they tasted like. And as quickly as it had started, the rain stopped.

It wasn’t much. And I am under no illusion that it was climate change. But it was a late spring rain, just like the models forecast. If so, perhaps over time it will create new memories for my boys. The memory of the smell and taste of rain coming down out of a warm humid sky. The memory of a changing climate.

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