We all talk about them. We all plan our lives by them. We are all obsessed with the outlook ahead. The changing seasons have shaped all of our lives, but what happens when the weather changes beyond recognition?
The author, Joe Shute, has spent years unpicking Britain's long-standing love affair with the weather. He has pored over the literature, art and music our weather systems have inspired and trawled through centuries of established folklore to discover the curious customs and rituals we have created in response to the seasons. But in recent years Shute has discovered a curious thing: the British seasons are changing far faster and far more profoundly than we realise. Daffodils in December, frogspawn in November and summers so hot wildfires rampage across the northern moors.
Shute has travelled all over Britain discovering how our seasons are warping, causing havoc with nature and affecting all our lives. He has trudged through the severe devastation caused by increasingly frequent flooding and visited the Northamptonshire village once dependent on hard frosts for its slate quarrying industry now forced to invest in industrial freezers due to our ever-warming winters. Even the very language we use to describe the weather, he has discovered, is changing in the modern age.
Forecast aims to bridge the void between our cultural expectation of the seasons and what they are actually doing. To follow the march of the seasons up and down the country and document how their changing patterns affect the natural world and all of our lives. And to discover what happens to centuries of folklore, identity and memory when the very thing they subsist on is changing for good.
Chapter 1. A Lockdown Spring
Chapter 2. Weather Watch
Chapter 3. Storm Clouds
Chapter 4. Seasons Past
Chapter 5. The Changing Harvest
Chapter 6. Exodus
Chapter 7. Budburst
Chapter 8. Winter Sleep
Chapter 9. Muirburn
Chapter 10. Melting
Chapter 11. Waterland
Chapter 12. The Vast Machine
Chapter 13. Weather Notes
Chapter 14. Solstice
Joe Shute is an author and journalist with a passion for the natural world. He studied history at Leeds University, and currently works as a senior staff feature writer at The Telegraph. Before joining the newspaper, Joe was the crime correspondent for The Yorkshire Post. He lives in Sheffield, on the edge of the Peak District.
"This urgent, elegiac book's call to mend our broken relationship with the land feels more vital by the day."
– Mail on Sunday
"With a journalist's eye for detail, he backs up his captivating anecdotal evidence regarding the seasons with the results of solid scientific research to finger the culprit: global warming."
"An absolutely beautiful account of life going on while the world stopped. I loved it."
– Kate Bradbury
"Joe Shute does not rant but, with passion and expertise, illuminates in beautifully clear prose, laced with well-judged literary and historical references, the scale of the threat posed to our natural world by climate change. A 'must read' for anyone who is curious and who cares"
– Jonathan Dimbleby
"Joe Shute is one of Britain's finest writers on nature. Or, indeed any other subject."
– John Lewis-Stempel
"Forecast is the most urgently needed, most important book I have read in a very long time. Here we have, graphically explained and charted for us, the indisputable evidence of the rapid decline and ruination of our natural world, our responsibility for it, and its consequences for ourselves and for every creature on our planet. I cried often as I read it. The plants cannot tell the tale, nor the insects, nor the birds, nor the refugees streaming north in their millions. Joe Shute has done the fieldwork, and is a writer of great power. Forecast is personal, the author profoundly knowledgeable. Follow his words, follow the facts, follow the science. It may not be too late. It must not be. I think Joe Shute is the Gilbert White of our time."
– Michael Morpurgo
"The tenderest map of our country that during one beautiful spring unveils a meteorology of disquiet. In vital, inspiring, instructive prose, with precision and the utmost attention to detail, Shute paints our connections with and disconnections from the natural world. As the pandemic spring travelled across the land, Shute travelled with it. Where the rest of us ground to a halt Shute investigated, noting exactly where, in hedges, roads and fields, in parks, dales and streets, the pattern and progress of a season can be found. At its core, this book is a love letter to the biosphere and to our bond with it. Joe Shute has a journalist's ear and a lover's eye; he demonstrates what one sees while moving across the land, tracking change when all else seemed still. This is no ordinary nature diary – it enlarges our perspective of what has altered, and what is being lost. While we stayed at home and gazed at our flowerbeds and window boxes, Shute's forensic overview stretched beyond the near to grasp a picture of shifting pattern that is generally beyond our perception. Luckily we have Joe to pen it for us, providing an observant picture of the situation in which we find ourselves. Threaded through with the melancholy of personal grief, this is one of the most poignant and affecting nature books I have read this year."
– Miriam Darlington
"What a wonderful read. Joe has interwoven our national pastime, our obsession about the weather, into a fascinating history of our changing climate through the centuries and it's defining influence on our consciousness. Told through the eyes of farmers, poets and philosophers as well as the author's own personal explorations across the country, Forecast is a beautifully written elegy to our natural world and a warning of how quickly it is changing."
– William Sieghart