Snow and Global Warming

I’m reading reports that Tory MP Ann Winterton has made a complete fool of herself in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions. She has suggested that the government should cancel “wasteful expenditure” on wind farms as the current weather clearly demonstrates that global warming is nonsense.

Despite being complete nonsense, this is an argument that I hear on a regular basis. It’s trotted out by someone every time the weather takes a turn for the worse. Here’s another Tory MP, Douglas Carswell[1], making the same claim during December’s snows. [Update: And here’s the the front page of today’s Express: Snow Chaos – And They Still Claim It’s Global Warming]

I was about to write a post pointing out the obvious flaws in this argument, but there was a feeling of deja vu niggling away at the back of my head. Then I remembered what I wrote during the snow we had last February.

[1] You might want to take a look around Carswell’s site. There’s a lot of nonsense there. I’m planning to cover him in more detail in  the coming weeks.

Global “Warming”

Weather like we’ve seen in the UK over the last twenty-four hours seems to effect people’s cognitive facilities. There’s one particular nonsense that I can almost guarantee you’ll come across in the next couple of days. That’s a climate change denier saying something like

Well this weather at least proves for once and for all that global warming isn’t happening.

I’m sure that all of my readers are intelligent enough to punch a few holes in that logic, but here are a couple of rebuttals that leapt to mind:

  • Thirty years ago, I remember weather like this happening every couple of years. We now have winters without any snow at all – which is why we are so unprepared for this weather and why it is such big news. Anyone who can remember thirty years ago can therefore see for themselves that the climate is changing, And fewer cold winters would seem to indicate that it’s warming up. No-one ever said that warming would mean we never get cold weather.
  • When people started talking about climate change, they made the mistake of calling it “global warming”. It’s true that the planet will, on average, get warmer, but that temperature rise could actually lead to cooling in some places. And the UK is a prime example of somewhere that could end up getting far colder. For our latitude, the UK is far warmer than you would expect it to be because of the warming effect that we get from the Gulf Stream. Some climate change models predict the Gulf Stream slowing down or even stopping altogether. If that happens, then the UK will become a far colder place to live.


It’s been snowing here for two days so the British transport system has fallen to pieces. It does that most years.

I hate snow. If I remember the books I was reading 30 years ago, by the 21st century we were supposed to all be living in cities that were covered by great glass domes that kept the weather out. Whatever happened to that?