Saturday, January 06, 2007

Let It Snow

The temperature in New York today will be 70°. It's January.

New York is currently experiencing its longest period without snow since 1878. Today's balmy temperatures are in stark contrast to the storm of 12 Feb 2006 which dumped 27 inches of snow on Central Park in the space of a few hours.

The unusual weather is bound to have been a surprise to the hoards of pasty-faced Brits with bad teeth currently clogging the 'sidewalks' of Fifth Avenue, seeking post-Xmas bargains. However it is worth remembering that New York is on the same latitude as Madrid whilst London is level with Nova Scotia, Canada where winters are as harsh as a Mike Riley sending-off. The wild card is of course the Gulfstream that is increasingly threatened by the melting of the icecaps.

The more I think about global warming the more it frightens me. It's not so much the weather changes themselves but the sociological impact. As a perennial worrier that does not so much marvel at modernity as remind people we are always just 'four meals from anarchy' (go to your larder and count them) the global warming debate hardly feels me with much optimism. Indeed a trip to Florida with its SUV culture and clogged highways is enough to make one conclude it's already too late.

The West has already reached a standard of living that could tolerate a slowdown in economic growth in the name of saving the planet, but try telling that to the billions in Asia especially trying to play 'catch-up'. It's likely therefore that the 21st century will (continue to be) defined by US/China tensions from trade to the environment. Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society described the present civilisation's chances of surviving the 21st century as 'no more than 50%.' I'm not sure that's a bet that even Derek 'Killer' Hales would find much value in.

Our generation is arguably benefiting from it though; I mean, who wakes up in New York in January and thinks "darn it, I'll be able to go running today in just a t-shirt.."? However at the same time I'll be sure to teach my children and grandchildren how to sail, and ensure they are experts in hand-to-hand combat.

Now to cheer me up, I'm going to sit down and watch Charlton play Cup football....oops.


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