It is summer in the Loire valley.
The old stones and castles are burning under the sun. Plants and flowers in the city experience dramatically high temperatures as they stubbornly survive between cracks and stones. I am walking through the streets, sneaking from shadow to shadow, breaking my head on why those plants deal way better with the hot sun and stones than I can.
Those plants that battle the city summer provide a nice example of some of the main headlines of the conference here: what are the climatic limits of organisms? What kind of climate extreme kills plants and animals, and even more importantly: which ways do they have to change their own environment to overcome those challenges.
The most important take-home message here is that organisms never experience the climate and environment like we do. The temperatures that they experience might be completely different from what it looks like from our point of view. Moreover, they have an arsenal of opportunities to battle the extremes, even when they are unable to move to the shadow. Those two things combined might actually explain a lot of their surviving powers.
I found myself a cold fresh drink under a sun screen, summarized all the interesting things that were discussed at the conference and promised myself to get to the heart of how plants manage to beat me again and again in dealing with the extremes.