Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boris Johnson's Ice Age

The Canberra Times printed an article yesterday written by Boris Johnson (he being the mayor of London).  Johnson wrote how he had stared through his window at a flowerpot and his bashed up barbeque and noticed that the layer of snow he could see outside his London home was getting thicker. He wrote "This is now the fifth year in a row that we have had an unusual amount of snow; I mean snow of a kind that I don't remember from childhood: snow that comes one day, sticks around for a couple of days, followed by more."

He concludes "But I observe something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it "warming" is to strain the language".  So Boris consulted learned astrophysicist Piers Corbyn, "...who has very good record of forecasting the weather". Corbyn reckons global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb (the sun). And that 'mood' is one of declining solar sunspot activity known to have coincided once in the past with a severe cold spell on Earth (the Maunder Minimum).

Johnson writes "I am not saying for a second that I am convinced Corbyn is right ... I am only speaking as a layman who observes there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility - however remote - that Corbyn is right". He concludes by writing "I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind".

Well Boris.  I live in Canberra, the capital of Australia.  Here, The Canberra Times (same day) also reports "Canberra heading for January heat record as storms spark fire fears".  The article tells us "Canberra is sweltering through what could be its hottest January on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology".  The average daily maximum temperature in January for Canberra is 27C.  This January so far, our average daily maximum temperature is sitting at 33C, a massive 5 degrees C above average!  Now it's only 24 January today, so we may be lucky to be blessed with some days where the maximum fails to exceed 30C (here's hoping) and lower the average daily maximum somewhat.

Boris - you look out your window and wonder if sunspot activity is leading the world to another Ice Age.  I look out my window and wonder when Canberra's summer will start cooling down to the long term average!

Perhaps an article written with a bit of fun in mind, but it might be sensible, Boris, that you look further than your own backyard to see if your conditions are reflected elsewhere.  And perhaps consult more than one expert (and perhaps not just an astrophysicist). From what I can tell, places like Washington and New York (regular deep freezes most winters) seem to have seen nary a snowflake at all this year.  Perhaps all their snow has gone to London!

So, I wish I was in London right now, enjoying the sight of snow falling rather than than my garden trees scorching under a relentless sun (see my poor Gingko below).

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