What has the snow revealed?

The Beast from the East has blanketed much of the UK with its beautiful sparkles, covering up roads, railways lines and in some cases front doors. 

Olivier Bataille,  flickr

Olivier Bataille, flickr

But the snow has also revealed things that aren’t usually seen: particulate pollution, uninsulated roofs, space which could be reclaimed from traffic for pedestrians and cyclists, and the impoverished nature of our soil.

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The pictures show, clockwise from top right:

  • Snow in London with particulate pollution, caught by Tony Juniper and posted on twitter.

  • 'Sneckdown' - the true path of traffic shown in snowy conditions - in Canonbury, north London, pictured by Ben Addy of Sustrans. There's more on 'sneckdown' here.

  • Roofs bare of snow, because of the amount of heat escaping. A recent raid in Keighley, Yorkshire on a cannabis farm in an attic space was prompted by eagle-eyed police seeing the roof didn't match its snowy neighbours. This picture, however, is from Delft police in 2015.

  • So-called snoil (a term seemingly coined by George Monbiot this week) snow mixed with soil, blown into drifts in a country lane in Staffordshire. Another example of police photography. An arresting image showing how loose and thin soil with little organic matter to hold it together is so easily eroded by wind and weather.

As you look around the sites your organisation occupies or is responsible for, what has the snow revealed about its sustainability aspects and impacts?

Making the invisible easier to see

Less easily photographed, the recent weather may have revealed other things which are useful to know, about sustainability and resilience. 

  • How easy (or hard) is it for your organisation to carry on working when transport is disrupted? What are the implications for travel-related carbon emissions, or flexible-working? For resilience in supply chains?

  • If your organisation is a big user of gas, was it able to respond to the National Grid’s call for a reduction in usage. How easy or hard did you find it matching energy demand to supply?

  • If you had a snow day, how did you spend your time? What did you choose to do, when you were given the gift of eight extra hours to use exactly as you like? Remember this when you are feeling low, demotivated, burnt out: perhaps spending a couple of hours exactly as you please will feed your flame.