The BBC has been full of stories that last year was the hottest on record in Australia. That must have been a bit of climate breaking through. It has not been so full of the figures for England in 2013, which show we had a very cold spring, and an overall temperature performance down on previous years. That must have been a bit too much weather.
The latest development of climate change theory appeared on the Today programme, with a scientist telling us there is a 20 year lag between generating more greenhouse gases and the frequency of extreme weather events. Apparently the latest storms are partly the result of greenhouse gases emitted in the 1990s, though the scientist agreed there have always been “extreme events” or bad weather. His concern is that extra past greenhouse gas means in 20 years time more frequent storms. He did not forecast future temperatures.
Nor have we heard much about the continuing struggles of the scientists and journalists on the MV Akademik Schokalskiy, transferred to a Chinese ice breaker. It has just been mid summer in the Antarctic. The party apparently expected to find evidence of retreating sea ice as global warming takes hold of a once inhospitable and icy cold south. Instead they ran into record levels of ice, and the ice packed hard around their ship and then around the ice breaker. It sounds as if the midsummer Antarctic is having a bad dose of weather as well.
More interesting is the news that the EU is turning against the green policies that are meant to provide the antidote to too much global warming. We read of a Competition investigation into German windpower, examining it to see if the subsidies are excessive and if the exemptions for German industry unacceptable. This follows hard on the heels of the announced investigation into the proposed contract to buy forward electricity from a new nuclear plant planned for the UK. Does this mean the EU itself is now no longer so concerned about greenhouse gases?
The EU looks as if it is getting itself into the position where it places member states in an impossible situation. They are not allowed to continue with much coal or oil based generation of power under one set of rules, but are then challenged for seeking subsidised energy from dearer renewable sources in an effort to comply with environmental legislation. The UK too is going to have to look at the high subsidy levels paid for renewables.
Energy is fast becoming the big issue which will cause electors to query their EU government, as well as condemning the actions of energy companies. The last Labour government welcomed the EU policies and put us under them. The Coalition has carried on with the EU requirements.
Surely the message of the bad gales of the last few days is that we need to adapt more, so that more homes and businesses are protected from tidal surges and from the bursting of river banks. Whatever the cause, all agree we have just had some bad weather and may well have more bad weather in the future. Where too many homes have been built on floodplain we need better drainage. Where the coast is subject to sea attack we need better defences. Where rivers can struggle from too much water we need better management of where the excess water is run off or parked, away from homes and businesses.