Leading article: Before the gold rush

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The Independent Online

In the midst of the banking crash there may yet be a gold rush, if not one which will improve the health of our beleaguered stock exchange. Piercing sunlight, eggshell blue skies, and stillness – after a forbidding summer, October has already ushered in what Albert Camus famously described as "a second spring when every leaf is a flower".

In the coming days the beech leaves will turn amber and then a blazing orange, while the oaks will grow scarlet and the Norway maple will shed its leaves as they yellow. And this riot of golden tinges on the trees will be thrown into relief by the crisp clean air and open skies, which seem these days to be apt in our colder seasons than in spring and summer.

Of course there are some who suggest that the stunning conditions we have recently enjoyed are merely the helpful by-products of the climate change, which at other times and in other places can and do cause such terrible damage to planet earth.

Indeed botanists have developed a theory that as Britain's summers brighten and our seasons snap so quickly into autumn, the colour development in the shedding leaves of deciduous trees will become markedly more pronounced.

If this proves to be true, might we suggest, in these days of economic tumult, that Britain should begin to market our stunning autumnal countryside to tourists as New England does to "leap peepers" and Japan to "momijigari".

Both places boast multi-million dollar tourism industries – and there are rather fewer of those than there were a week ago.