For much of December 2010 the River Wye, just near my house, was frozen over with ice extending bank to bank, as happened in January 2010. On 8th January 2010 I wrote my first blog about the freezing River Wye, the difference between weather and climate, and the need to tackle Climate Change. Again we have people feeling the cold and being ever more sceptical of Climate Science. Climate Change as an issue has slipped down the public, political and media agenda.
Yet as the emerging statistics reveal, 2010 has been a record hot year, with the Northern Hemisphere experiencing the hottest year on record, the Southern Hemisphere the sixth warmest, and the Global average being the equal hottest year on record, jointly with 2005 ( http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/ )
Whether there is a correlation between our local cold winter and a general warming of the planet is unclear and contentious. Some Climate scientists, notably Petoukhov and Semenov ( http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009JD013568.shtml ), speculate that our cold winters may be in part caused by the reduced ice cover on the Barents-Kara section of the Arctic Ocean. There is no clear pattern: the UK has had some very cold and some very warm winters of late. What is clear is that we should not look just at our local weather and think we can learn much about Climate Change.
Globally the picture is clear. Overall global temperatures do appear to be generally following an upward trend, and extreme weather events do seem to be becoming more frequent and more severe, exactly as all the Climate models suggest. We must understand that Climate Change is non-linear: sporadic, sudden and apparently contradictory weather patterns are all part of the chaos that is Climate Change.
This is an issue which should not be ignored. There is so much that could and should be done to tackle Climate Change while simultaneously promoting many aspects of greater ecological sustainability and social justice, as I will seek to show in all the blogs over the coming year.