At the beginning of this summer, I realized what a fantastic place we live in. After only walking or cycling a few hundred meters, we are in the middle of small but beautiful nature reserves, such as ‘Strengen’ and the adjacent ‘Tengnagel’. Recently, interesting shallow pools were created there.
They soon attracted interesting birds such as the lesser plover and the sandpiper. It didn’t take long before beautiful dragonflies dropped their eggs. In Spring these were mainly black-tailed skimmers and green-eyed hawkers.
Climate change was no longer an abstract concept when we went on holiday in France in the second half of July. Every day the sun was shining from early in the morning until late in the evening. One day, the temperature reached 41 degrees in the shade and, with the air conditioning on, we could only stay indoors. Fortunately it wasn’t always that hot. So we could make beautiful walks. At rivers South of the river Loire, we saw kingfishers and the most beautiful damselflies. But there was no drop of rain.
When we returned to the Netherlands by the end of July, the weather remained completely dry. In early August, the Minister informed the Parliament that he had assigned the task of water distribution to a special administrative body, the MTW, the water shortages management team: in the first place the protection of dikes, peatlands and vulnerable nature, in the second place drinking water supply and water for agriculture and industry. Major regional problems were arising in agriculture, particularly in the Zeeland province.
On 3 August, the European Commission issued a statement expressing fears of declining yields from European agricultural crops: “In times of unprecedented temperature spikes, we must stop wasting water and use this resource more efficiently to adapt to the changing climate.”. The Dutch nature conservation organization Natuurmonumenten emphasized once more that the Netherlands has paid more attention to the drainage of water than to its retention, with disastrous environmental consequences: “Annual rainfall is more than before, but we drain this water into the sea at lightning speed. Only if we retain this water better, will we no longer suffer from shortages in the future.”
Back from France, I visited my favourite nature areas again. I was shocked. The water areas on Strengen and Tengnagel were completely gone. Only a dry soil with deep cracks remained. Where, not long ago, dragonflies laid their eggs, nothing was left. An entire generation of dragonfly larvae was dried up, dead. Recovery will take a long time. In the first week of September, Erik and I went to a beautiful area near Hoek van Holland to study dragonflies. As I have written elsewhere (in Dutch), the area was completely dried up. Almost nothing had remained of the rich dune valley nature. The precipitation deficit was 330 mm, which means 330 litres per square meter!
We needed rain, lots of rain. Finally, on September 5, two days later than originally expected, it arrived. I walked into the garden without a coat and caught the rain with open hands. It felt like a miracle, that water from the sky. After that, it rained again during two nights.
It was a good start: patches of grass near our home, dark brown because of the drought, gradually turned to light green. But it was not enough. When, after the last rain shower, the sun came back, it didn’t feel right at all.
Today I consulted the weather App ‘Buienradar’ on my mobile, where I read the following text:
"A nice improvement in the weather is expected during the weekend. Before that, heavy showers will fall in the South and Southeast today. Tomorrow it promises to be a nice autumn day."
Should not we say that to the people in Africa, whose harvest is now being completely ruined?: “For the time being, it won’t rain in your region either. The weather will remain beautiful!”