Nigel Hastilow: We may not like it, but climate change is real
Climate science feels like it has become a religion, but the evidence of change is too big to ignore.
Phew! What a scorcher. February, I mean. A year ago it was the ‘Beast from the East’ but now it’s summer in winter, warmer than Corfu, birds all a-twitter, flowers blooming early, the seasons turned upside-down.
After a month like that, it’s increasingly difficult for die-hard cynics like me to carry on refusing to accept the climate is changing.
I don’t want to believe in global warming because, if it really is man-made and taking place before our eyes, then all those doom-mongers and alarmists must be right.
And if they are, the planet is in trouble.
So it is with only the greatest reluctance that I am prepared to even contemplate the vague possibility that, maybe, there is the faintest chance they are correct.
Perhaps the climate is changing, the globe is warming and that it is all our own fault so we must do something drastic to change things.
One problem is that climate change has become a religion; agnostics are vilified as unbelievers unwilling to follow the true faith.
And, just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one warm, dry February doesn’t make a tectonic shift in the state of global weather systems.
As a nation, the weather has always been our favourite topic of conversation. Every little shift in temperature finds us unprepared and surprised. There’s always too much rain or too little. The sun is beating down or it’s disappeared, never to be seen again.
A flurry of snow is enough to close airports and bring overnight queues on motorways. A few weeks without rain and we’re told to shower with a friend. Trains are late because it’s autumn again. It gives us something to talk about.
The weathermen and climate-changeologists have altered the rules and now insist global warming does not mean a gradual change. They used to claim we were like frogs in boiling water, not noticing how hot it was until it’s too late.
Now they talk about ‘extreme weather events’, arguing that rising temperatures have unpredictable but often catastrophic consequences.
So wildfires in California, flooding in Vietnam or hurricanes crashing across the Atlantic are no longer seen as one-off events but as part of a pattern of severe incidents which add to the evidence that things are changing.
If that’s true then it is reasonable to assume we, the human race, have some responsibility for it. We cut down rain forests, breed methane-emitting cattle for beef burgers and drive polluting vehicles which all make matters worse.
An entire industry has been created from out of the fear that we are collectively delivering our own doom. In the dim and distant past, extreme weather was an act of God; now we don’t believe in Him any more, it’s an act of Mankind.
The Met Office has statistics dating back to 1659 showing how the average temperature in the Midlands has risen over the years. It suggests it’s now one degree Centigrade above the long-term average.
That doesn’t sound like something to get terribly worried about, especially when there have always been ‘extreme weather events’ such as the fact that the driest year in the past century was way back in 1933.
And the experts who are waving their green shrouds are the successors of those who, in the 1970s, warned we were heading for a new Ice Age which would leave the globe a frozen, barren wasteland.
So it’s still tempting to dismiss all the alarmism as a job-creation scheme for fanatics.
There are good reasons to question the claims that we are facing catastrophe and that it is all our own fault.
And one of the reasons why floods or wildfires cause more destruction than in the past is simply because there is more property, and there are more people, to destroy. Our prosperity means we have more to lose.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a right-wing think-tank supported by ex-Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson, is dedicated to debunking the more extreme theories. It recently reported, for instance, it is untrue to claim global warming has caused more hurricanes than in the past.
The dilemma for the rest of us is that worldwide scientific opinion is so heavily weighted in favour of the existence of man-made global warming it’s increasingly perverse to deny it’s happening.
Yet sceptics like Lord Lawson are attacked so vehemently it’s difficult to sympathise with his critics because their fundamentalism is so off-putting.
They even blame the Big Freeze, which hit the northern USA with temperatures colder than the Arctic, on global warming, which does stretch credulity somewhat.
Back in the West Midlands, we’ve been basking in unseasonably warm weather and long may it continue. But much as it grieves me, I’m starting to accept we need to take drastic action to stop Februaries getting hotter and hotter.
I really don’t want global warming to be true; unfortunately, I think it is. Or is it just that we like talking about the weather?
The heart of the home
The Government’s help-to-buy scheme is supposed to make it easier for young people to get on the housing ladder. It may have done so but it wasn’t, surely, intended to line the pockets of house-builders like Persimmon.
They have just reported a huge £1.09 billion profit – the biggest by a British house-builder – and lost their boss Jeff Fairburn in a row over his £110 million bonus.
Negative equity together with ‘fleecehold’ contracts which force buyers to pay council tax and then a separate charge to the builders means this industry is turning into a scandalous rip-off requiring dramatic political intervention. Sadly, ministers are too busy threatening to resign.
Deal or no no-deal
Well that’s it then, isn’t it? There won’t be a no-deal Brexit because most MPs won’t accept one and, though it’s still an option in theory, even Mrs May has more or less ruled it out. And the chances of her supposed deal being accepted by Parliament are slim.
The most likely next step is the departure date of March 29 will be postponed, also entirely predictable. But what’s the point? More delays, more arguments but nothing will actually change – it will still be either the deal on the table or some even more watered-down Brexit.
The other option, alas, is Parliament agrees to disagree so completely we are forced to endure a second ‘people’s vote’, when we will be told to get it right next time. But even then, it seems, no-deal won’t be an option.
Bemused over classes
At the risk of being reported to the police for some new kind of thoughtcrime, I have to say I’m still bemused by the need for another set of guidelines for sex education in our schools.
This means, apparently, that children will be taught all about gay and lesbian history and told it’s perfectly normal to find you’re a girl trapped in a boy’s body, or vice-versa.
Have I missed something? Has the reproductive process changed very much in the past two decades and how did the human race survive before Mr Hinds’ department felt the need to interfere?