Hell will freeze before most Australians will be able to get their heads around the confident scientific prediction that by 2050 climate-changed, warmed-up Australia will no longer have any winters.
Millions of us live in places where our surroundings and the way we live is substantially shaped and coloured by those places' punctual, influential winters.
I am writing this in Australia's famously Siberian-in-winter federal capital city where, just last week, Canberrans, feeling it in the marrow of their bones, shivered through the coldest Canberra July day (a maximum temperature of 6 degrees after a teeth-chatteringly low of minus 4.7 degrees) in many years.
These July mornings Canberra's gardens' birds arrive for a bath or a drink and peck, bewildered, at the birdbath's hard, glassy lid. But the smartest of them (of course the cerebral Australian Ravens) know what is happening and can be heard reciting to one another Christina Rossetti's famous word picture:
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
The very choice of Canberra as the site of the federal capital was predicated on the winter-blessed sub-alpine/alpine site guaranteeing the 100 frosts a year thought essential for a site that would give the new city the required "bracing" climate with "cheek-tinting air".
But by 2050 there will be precious little cheek-tinting air anywhere in Australia. As reported by The Canberra Times, academics of the ANU Climate Change Institute using authoritative climate change data, are sure that "by 2050, Australians will no longer enjoy winter as they know it today and will experience a new season [describable as] 'New Summer'."
"New Summer represents a period of the year where temperatures will consistently peak in many cases well above 40 degrees for a sustained period."
"In 30 years' time winter as we know it will be non-existent. It ceases to be everywhere apart from a few places in Tasmania," ANU senior lecturer Dr Geoff Hinchcliffe said.
The discovery that our wintry days are numbered has sensitive Australians re-evaluating winters, having a new sense of their preciousness, feeling a kind of grief at their impending disappearance, imagining in sorrow how our experience-impoverished grandchildren will never know the blessings of winter that we were so blessed by. To never build a snowman! To never throw snowballs! What tragedy!
The city's roughly twice-a-decade dumps of winter snow brought hope. Magic sometimes happened.
And the outdoorsy mind leaps for example to the qualitative difference between walking in a wild, wide-open place (along a coastal cliff for instance or in the wuthering heights of one of the elevated forests of our National Arboretum) on a cheek-tintingly wild and wintry day and on a hot and still day. The winter experience, soon to be lost to us, is somehow thrillingly, stimulatingly twice as profound.
No wonder winters with their cobweb-clearing cold have been such divine inspirations to the finest painters, poets and composers.
Eugene von Guerard's North east view from the top of Mount Kosciusko, New South Wales (1866) is a masterpiece.
Attached to a scientific expedition von Guerard ascended the mountain in 1862. His is a depiction of majestic bleakness. The shivering, windswept humans of the expedition are tiny and inconsequential in the wintry immensity of it all.
But with winters to become things of the past generations to come will ogle the masterpiece (it is at the National Gallery of Victoria), needing to have its essences explained to them.
"What was an 'icy wind' and what's that imaginary white stuff the surrealist has decorated the mountains with?" perspiring schoolchildren will ask their gallery guides.
Then, politically, spiritually, mystically, without Canberra winters what is to become of the famous folkloric belief that when there is a substantial, enough-to-make-snowmen-with fall of snow in Canberra it is the portent of a change of federal government?
What heart this darling notion, this buoying hope, has given generations of progressive dreamers in this land where conservative governments seem to endure for eternities. The city's roughly twice-a-decade dumps of winter snow brought hope. Magic sometimes happened.
For even when these snowfalls didn't bring change at the very next election (for nature and magic move at their own magisterial pace) they bring hope. So for example we can see now that the major Canberra snowfalls of late May 2000 were a promise that the tyranny of eternal-seeming Howard years would not last for ever. And sure enough he was exorcised from office, and from his seat, at the election of 2007.
Thank you for that, blessed winter.
But without you and your prophetic, hope-stoking dumps and blizzards, what will keep left-liberal hopes up during the endless, endless summers of shrivelling, desiccating, bone-bleaching conservative government?