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If this is global warming, I think the species will survive

January 1, 2011

From the Telegraph (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100069647/if-this-is-global-warming-i-think-our-species-will-survive/)
By Daniel Hannan Politics Last updated: December 24th, 2010

My Home Counties constituency is looking lovelier than ever.

It’s not just Britain. Half of Europe has been paralysed by the continuing effects of global warming. Belgian drivers have been advised to stay at home, Germany’s roads are void and inert, Charles de Gaulle airport is barely functioning, the Netherlands is frozen solid.
Me? I’ve just been building a snowman in the garden with the children. As far as they’re concerned, this is how every Christmas ought to be; and I surely can’t be the only adult who sympathises. Snow has an extraordinary and benign effect on the British. In towns, it prompts us to talk to total strangers or, at the very least, to exchange glances of complicit delight. In the country, it renders the most ordinary landscape severely beautiful, turning every trunk black, giving every vista a bright immediacy. Indoors, we luxuriate in the sense of being warm and protected.
As far as the newspapers are concerned, the weather is an unmitigated disaster. Every headline speaks of “misery”, every image is of stranded passengers. And, of course, for those who have been immobilised, the experience is must be miserable indeed. But I’d guess that, for 90 per cent of the population, this has been a gorgeous week, with clear colours, open skies and ski-resort landscapes.
There is always, of course, a disconnection between the world we read about in our newspapers and the world we inhabit. For journalists, bad news is good news. Snow chaos, terror threats, the ludicrous swine ‘flu menace: all have loped malignly across our pages. The same disconnection skews coverage of climate change.
Four days ago, George Monbiot decreed that cold winters were in fact a product of global warming. And he may be right, although one is bound to ask what kind of weather pattern he would accept as evidence that there wasn’t global warming. My point isn’t about meteorology, but about pessimism. Why should we focus only on the negative aspects of climate change? Aren’t snowy winters, for most of us, rather delightful? Or – to return to the more usual AGW narrative – mightn’t there be an up-side in a two degree temperature rise in Britain?
To put it even more simply, aren’t we capable of adapting to climatic shifts? Mean annual temperature in Helsinki is 5.6 degrees centigrade, in Athens 17.4 degrees, in Rio de Janeiro 26.6, yet all three cities seem capable of supporting large populations. I think we’ll get by somehow. Anyway, I’m going out for another snowball fight. Joyeux Noël, as we Old Brussels Hands say, and bonnes fêtes.

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