Here’s a question from a news website: “How about this weird weather we've been having?” On the eve of a climate change debate in the Commons tomorrow, it is timely. The last two days have seen the hottest winter temperatures on record, leading many to ask if climate change is responsible.
The news website I’m looking at continues: “It's a common query around the Pacific Standard office, and for good reason: Abnormalities such as the recent cold and snow in Southern California capture pretty much everyone's attention.” (see article here) The website reports on a scientific study which shows how humans are adapting to these new extremes. It seems that when weather extremes (or large variances) occur lots of people talk about it. Then, the discussion drifts off because the new weather becomes normalised, we get used to it. I guess this may seem a fairly rational response in societies which exist in environments which can ‘take’ a bit of stress, but I doubt it makes sense globally, since some countries simply won’t be able to cope, e.g. with sea level rise, or ten years or more of drought.
The question then is whether the weather is in a warming trend or are we simply experiencing natural variations? Where better to find the answer than the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF; Prop: Nigel Lawson). I don’t after all only want to hear views which accord with my own. According to one of the GWPF’s resident ‘experts,’ Paul Homewood, a former accountant to industry (i.e. not a climate scientist, meteorologist or anything like that) all we’re seeing are a few anomalies which basically don’t tell us anything significant about a trend. The evidence, Homewood finds is patchy because record keeping has been patchy. I assume record keeping would have remained forever patchy if we hadn’t begun to wake up to climate change, but that’s not the point. Patchy records allow you to cherry pick your conclusions, so for the time being I think I’ll go with the flow rather than the little sinkhole of denial in Tufton Street, SW1 (the home of many right-wing ideologues).
Interestingly, whilst looking at the deniers’ website, they have a new report out today which says that the disappearing polar ice cap is not threatening polar bear numbers. This is because the bears are moving into human environments scavenging for food. At least the GWPF accepts that the polar ice cap is in retreat! Now why would it be shrinking? Perhaps it’s just a statistical anomaly?