Miss W's blog

The year we had no winter

Miss W ponders climate change in Ibiza

While contemplating the start of the summer season, Blogger Miss W ponders the effects of climate change on Ibiza.

Once upon a time, there was a little island in the Mediterranean, just off the coast of southern Spain. Geography defined it as part of Spain legally but really, when you stepped foot on the shores of this island, it was clear that it possessed a micro-climate and indeed, a micro-culture, all of its own. Years on the little island were divided into two separate seasons: summer and winter, as if there were no need for anything in between. Summer was a blaze of glory: sunshine, beaches, parties and cosmopolitan tourists from all over the world while winter was much more laidback – still sunny, but a little cold and blissfully quiet, with a ‘locals only’ kind of vibe that was enjoyed by those who were lucky enough to be born and bred here and those clever expats who were clued-up enough to realise it was well worth sticking around in the ‘off-season’.

I first came to Ibiza, the island in question, in 2005 – as one of those keen holidaymakers from a far-flung corner of the globe in summer. By the end of 2006 I had experienced my first winter, realising very early on in my experience that Ibiza was much more than a one trick pony. And I’ve been here for every winter, ever since. Regular readers of my blog will know that winter is my absolute favourite time of year in Ibiza (all six months of it) and I adore the contrast between the two seasons. I’m hesitant to travel in the winter months – unlike many other winter residents in Ibiza – because I know exactly what I’ll be missing. Even the typically grey month of February is one of my favourites; it gives me time to nest, to make plans and I find the gloomy skies quite beautiful.

In recent years however, the winter part of the Ibiza year has been getting shorter and shorter. This was initially due to an extended tourist season – businesses stayed open longer and opened earlier. And despite losing some of my favourite winter time, I knew that it was good for the island. Then there was the festive season boom – all of a sudden people wanted to spend Christmas and new year in Ibiza which meant more places to go, more things to do, more people to see. And again, despite losing some of our small town Christmas charm, I totally understood that was also good for the island. By 2018, winter in Ibiza had been reduced to around three and a half months (gasp! Making it like the rest of the world) at the most.

To those of us who enjoyed the six-month stop-gap between summers, it was starting to feel like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of season, especially if you had to spend any time off the island due to family commitments or holidays or whatnot. Which brings me to today. March 15, 2019 – a point in time most people in Ibiza would say is the end of winter and the start of summer (give or take a few weeks depending on your occupation). It’s the time of year those who spend their winters in warmer climes start to return to Ibiza; it’s the time when business owners kick back into planning mode and start monitoring their inboxes a lot more sharply and – this is the bit I like best – it’s the time of year when the shops come alive with colour, as the new season fashions start to pop up in the windows, reminding us all we should start eating salads and going to yoga and get some sun on our skin to be able to wear them.

It’s the unofficial start of summer, but when I look back at the past six months, I don’t think the winter ever began! Is it just me, or is 2019 the year we had no winter in Ibiza? First of all – where was the downtime? I’ve been almost relentlessly busy with work since the clubbing season wrapped up – and I mean REALLY busy, not the kind of busy where you go to yoga, have a coffee with someone and then send a few emails busy. I mean that 12 hours a day, seven days a week kind of busy that most people associate with August in Ibiza. Being busy is a good thing for business of course, but it has the ability to skew your sense of time (especially in our industry, when you’re often working on content plans ahead of time – right now it’s the end of June in my head) and make you forget that you need to take a break ‘between seasons’.

It’s not just me who is experiencing this mega-workload – many of my island-based friends are feeling the same kind of pressure. Could it be that… finally… the Ibiza business model is morphing into a fully functional year-round thing? Business reasons aside however, I think the other really important reason it feels like we’ve had no winter in Ibiza this year is BECAUSE WE’VE ACTUALLY HAD NO WINTER IN IBIZA THIS YEAR! Aside from two days of extremely cold temperatures in December (I remember them clearly because I was thrilled to finally have a reason to buy both an oversized puffer parka and a faux fur-trimmed coat on the same day), the weather has been pretty darn glorious from November all the way through until today: March 15, 2019.

Let me be clear about this; I’m certainly not complaining about living on a beautiful Mediterranean island where the sun shines all year round, with a bunch of un-worn coats collecting dust in my wardrobe. Life could definitely be much worse. Way worse. It’s just… well, it’s kinda weird, right? Last winter it was grey, cold and even a lot rainier than usual here in Ibiza (I loved it). The winter before had been remarkably cold too (I was a big fan). And now here we are, just 12 months later and it’s hot enough to sunbathe; nay, it’s hot enough to get sunburned. It’s not normal, and no matter how much all we Ibiza residents are enjoying our extra hours spent outdoors, it’s not good. It’s the result of climate change and we need to do something about it.

Let’s take another look at today’s date because it’s one that may go down in history: March 15, 2019 so I think we need to stop and recognise it. Today is the day that tens of thousands of students all over the globe are collectively bunking off school – inspired by teenage Swedish student Greta Thunberg whose environmental activism earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination earlier this week – to strike against climate change; to urge our governments to take action on this matter to prevent future climate change. They’re saying you’re never too young to make a difference… which is true but for those of us who have been out of school for many years, it’s also important to remember that we’re never too old to make a difference either.

I’m not going to list all the stats I just read about global warming on the NASA website and pretend to know what I’m talking about (you can ask Google yourself!). All I really understand is this: the effects of climate change are irreversible which may mean I may never get my beloved winter back. The earth is in crisis and we have to do something about it. While we wait for politicians and big corporations to make their next move, we – the everyday people of the world – need to do as much as we can to show that we’re committed to making a change in the world.

Say no to plastic, buy local produce, reduce water waste, conserve and use the energy in your home wisely or use renewable energy sources, upcycle or repurpose instead of buying new things, use eco-friendly products, drive less, walk more, adapt your diet, fly less… the list goes on. Each and every little action (no matter how tiny) we as individuals make will help make a difference. But we can’t start tomorrow. We have to start today. If you have a heart, you will recognise our moral obligation to do more than just soak up the extra sun all year round in Ibiza. If you want to live happily ever after on this little island in the Mediterranean… you will act right now.