Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snowfalls in UK "just a thing of the past" (Independent 2000)

London Snow
Taken in London yesterday. Photo credit: Mike Fleming

Over the past few years, snowfall in winter in the UK has generated a number of clich├ęs referring to how useless we are at dealing with it compared with, say Finland, Canada or anywhere that snow falls ten times as heavily. There is also the one about how silly it sounds to talk about global warming.

Both of these now wearisome saws are met by rebuttals such as saying that we don't have the money or the depth of snow to keep the equipment, or that it is a question of "climate change" not global warming.

Those arguments can run and run, so it is fun to see that A Tangled Blog has dug up a really embarrassing article from the Independent from ten years ago in which climate change experts themselves explicitly went for the short-term hypothesis, blaming the lack of snow for a few years on global warming: Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past. The article begins:
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
The article tells us about a relentless rise in temperatures that can lead to hot summers, but goes on:
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.
(NB - University of East Anglia - see for example.) Read the whole article; it is hilarious.
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