Letter: Heavy weather

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I disagree profoundly with your editorial on global warming ("Stop talking about the weather - do something about it", 15 August)?

Although Washington didn't suffer a downpour immediately after Mr Gore had stopped speaking, Americans were all too well aware that the Vice- President had previously declared the month of June to be the hottest on record. We now know that, despite the Texan heatwave, most of America was some 2 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than on average in June, including the capital city.

Climate always changes, and it will continue to change whatever we do to greenhouse gases. Climate is controlled by millions of factors, and it is a cruel lie to suggest that human action can "do something about it". Ultimately, climate change remains unpredictable and our very best intentions may bring about results we neither expect nor want, as the different climate cycles, ranging from less than a second to a million years in length, impinge on one another.

The whole approach is flawed. We must accept that climate change is the norm and that climate "means" are meaningless and extremes normal. We must face up to the problem, locally, nationally and internationally, of developing new economic, social and political systems of risk assessment in the face of change.

We must be ready to respond whether the climate gets warmer, cooler, wetter, or drier, as it surely will at some point or another.

PHILIP STOTT

Professor of Biogeography

University of London

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