Right now, Great Britain is facing weather that is literally breaking records for cold – quite possibly the lowest temperatures ever recorded in modern Britain. Thankfully they do not extend to the ice age 15,000 years ago. They don’t even extend to the 17th century mini-ice age when people crossed the River Thames in London on foot and in New York walked from Manhattan to Staten Island.
Yet modern records are bad enough. During the winter of 1962 , it did not get over 5 degrees anywhere in Britain before mid-March. This winter could be worse.
What has happened about all these warnings about global morning? This morning a meteorologist reminded me of something I have tried to forget. Instead of global warming making Britain a warmer, if wetter, place, it could shift the Gulf Stream south. In which case weather in Britain and some in the U.S. warmed by the Gulf Stream will resemble that of Siberia or Alaska.
This winter the Gulf Stream has shifted south, and is highly unlikely to shift north again this year.
We will survive a cold winter or two. But what if the Gulf Stream has shifted permanently and never returns?
The scientific evidence is not comforting. It is not just various global temperatures that suggest the effects of global warming are real. The measure of salinity in the seas has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, indicating that the flow of air and water reflecting the Gulf Stream’s path is no longer taking the course we are accustomed to.
Global warming has already begun to make deserts out of what vast tracts of farmland, threatening food supplies for as many as a billion people – one out of every six people on the planet. We might discover that, paradoxically, global warming is making winters much colder for millions of us too.