LETTER : Freeze points to need for climate action

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Sir: Paradoxically, a severe cold spell is a very appropriate moment for a robust lead article on global warming (4 January). However, the article implies that the recent cold weather is probably a natural variation from the trend of gradual temperature increases. That is certainly possible, but it could just as easily be a perverse consequence of global warming itself.

The extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases changes the circulation of the atmosphere and may even disrupt major systems such as the Gulf Stream. If the changed circulation means that Britain gets more of its weather from the Arctic than from the Caribbean, global warming may cause local cooling.

Such predictions are hard to make and even harder to verify. However, they illustrate the point that global warming will lead to changes in weather patterns that leave some places colder, most hotter, and many facing instability, storms, floods, droughts and other "weird weather" events. Sadly, many politicians still cling to the more comforting idea of vineyards in Suffolk and pavement cafes in Manchester.

CLIVE BATES

International Institute for Energy Conservation

London N1

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