Weather is not climate, it is true. So we will not dive too deeply into the question of why it is at least 5 degrees above average in the Northeastern United States while freezing temperatures, ice, and snow bluster across Europe. But we will ask the question: is it right to brand the weather?
While some cities like Sao Paulo are banning outdoor advertising in an attempt to reduce visual pollution, in other places the Ad Agencies are taking over nature itself.
A public relations company for BMW bought the rights to name the weather "Cooper." Unfortunately, the planned follow up -- advertising the small BMW convertible as a "wind and weather-proof idea" -- failed as the death count blamed on "Cooper" has grown, already into three-figure territory.
Currently, weather agencies in Germany and the United States are the only ones which permit sponsors to give names to the weather. But while discussing the potential for this trend, fellow writer Jeff pointed out that when the first sports stadium was branded, we chuckled and thought the idea would soon die. Now branded stadiums are standard.
The impacts of "Cooper" will be felt for years to come. Those are olive trees buried under the snow in the photo at top. Already, many of the trees have suffered damage, losing branches weighed down by the heavy, wet snow. It continues to snow, but fortunately some wind overnight helped to reduce the loads carried by the trees. Is it global climate change? Well, lore among the olive farmers holds that every twenty-five years, a big freeze damages the trees that bear the noble fruit. When was the last freeze? About twenty five years ago.
Air and train traffic has been disrupted across Europe. In central Italy, unused to snowfall, all truck traffic was prohibited on icy thoroughfares to reduce the emergency cases. The question was moot where we live: the photo above shows the road out from the olive mill, closed by trees so heavy with snow that they have drooped onto the road. Other trees broke, and will have to be removed before the road is passable. These we rescued with a timely shake.
Scientists have linked 2011's heatwaves in Moscow and Texas to global warming. What will they make of "Cooper," after the facts?
Maybe global warming, maybe not. But if we are lucky, we will look back at Cooper as the storm that put an end to branding the weather.