Environment Scientists have found that temperatures are rising faster in the Arctic than in the rest of the world, and two and a half times faster than in previous estimates

It was the evidence that climate change sceptics loved to cite. While the scientific community’s warnings about global warming had become ever more convincing, the critics pointed time and again to graphs showing the rise in the world’s average surface temperatures has slowed down since 1998 – a fact extensively interpreted by many vocal opponents as a fundamental failure in the basic science of climate change.

How We Met: Vikram Seth and Giles Gordon

Giles Gordon (52) grew up in Edinburgh. He was a publisher until he became a literary agent in 1973. Last year, he sold Vikram Seth's novel, A Suitable Boy, for pounds 250,000, the biggest advance ever paid for a first novel in Britain. Seth (42) is a poet, novelist and playwright. His novel in verse, The Golden Gate, received great acclaim when it came out in 1986. He has also published two volumes of poetry. He lives with his parents in New Delhi, where he would rise at 4 o'clock in the morning and write 12,000 words a day to finish A Suitable Boy, published last week by Orion.

How We Met: David Sweetman and Franco Zeffirelli

Franco Zeffirelli (70) was born in Florence, the illegitimate son of a fashion designer. He fought as a partisan during the Second World War; he has directed operas and plays, but is best-known for films such as Romeo & Juliet, La Traviata and Otello. He lives in Rome and Positano, and is now filming The Little Sparrow in Sicily. He asked David Sweetman (49) to help him write his autobiography, published in 1986. Sweetman grew up in Northumberland, and was a producer for BBC television before leaving to write full-time in 1988. His biography of Mary Renault appears in April.

OPERA / Mixed company: David Patrick Stearns on Ariadne auf Naxos

RICHARD Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, an 'opera within an opera' that first depicts the backstage chaos and then shows the on-stage result, has remained a unique juxtaposition of musical theatre elements. As pretentious 18th-century opera seria singers are forced to share the stage with a commedia dell'arte troupe, the rarefied and the coarse, the obvious and the subtle, the artificial and the real rub shoulders in a way that might have intrigued Bertolt Brecht while delighting more conservative opera-goers with its dry wit.

How We Met: Naim Attallah and Richard Ingrams

The Palastinian-born publisher, film producer and financier Naim Attallah (62) was born in Haifa. He came to Britain after the war to study engineering, taking over Quartet Books in 1976, then launching the Literary Review. He is also chief executive of Asprey, the jewellers, and wants to write a

Classical Music Awards: Composition of the Year - The Ghosts of Versailles: Artists strike triumphant note on big awards night

JOHN CORIGLIANO is the composer of this grand opera buffa, but in accepting the award was quick to praise his librettist, William M Hoffman. The work, commissioned by the Metropolitan in New York, is set in Marie Antoinette's private theatre in Versailles. It uses characters from Beaumarchais' La Mere Coupable - the third play in his Figaro trilogy. Fiction and the real world are brought together. The score, a dazzling deployment of modern techniques in approachable ways, uses a double orchestra and was the Met's first premiere for 25 years, produced by Colin Graham and conducted by James Levine.

How We Met: 55. Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp (46) started the rock band King Crimson. He has guided this highly successful group through several incarnations, run guitar seminars, lived for a spell in New York and recorded with artists such as David Bowie and Brian Eno. He married Toyah Willcox (34), on his 40th birthday. As high profile as he is low, Toyah combines successful singing and acting careers. Her films include Derek Jarman's The Tempest and Jubilee. The couple live in the late Sir Cecil Beaton's Queen Anne house, near Salisbury, when not pursuing their separate schedules across the world.

How We Met: 41. David Thornton and Cyndi Lauper

Singer and actress Cyndi Lauper, 38, was born in New York, the granddaughter of Sicilian immigrants. Her first album, 'She's so Unusual', sold 4.5 million copies and her new single, 'The World is Stone', recently reached the top 30. She now stars in the film 'Off and Running' together with her husband David Thornton, 37, who plays a psychotic killer. Thornton studied at Yale and Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio, and is now appearing in the play 'One Neck' at the Home for Contemporary Theatre in New York. They were married in November of last year and live in Connecticut.
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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003