SPRING SNOWSTORMS make the perfect backdrop for the government’s new chief scientist to get climate action back on the agenda.
This isn't how it’s supposed to be. Spring should herald warmer sunshine and lambs prancing about in green fields. Instead, they are struggling to survive in snowdrifts of 10 feet or more.
But talk to many climate scientists and they will say this is how it’s likely to be. Extreme weather is here and it’s here to stay.
“The weather we are experiencing now is caused by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere 25 years ago,” Professor Sir John Beddington told the BBC recently. “One of the analyses that is becoming more and more clear is we are looking at greater and greater variability” in weather.
Beddington made his comments in his last week of office as the government’s chief scientist. He had held the post since 2008 and has “trodden a thin line with grace”, according to the Guardian. Politics and science are often uneasy bedfellows, which is why Beddington had long advocated a chief scientist be installed in each Whitehall department. Now there is a chief scientific adviser in every major science-using department – something Beddington can be proud of, and yet the government is no closer to making good on its “greenest ever” claims.
Beddington, to his credit, has spoken out on issues such as climate change and genetically modified foods. In his final interview as the government’s top science advisor, he warned that there are “massive problems” ahead and climate change “is just going to make it worse”. Beddington is well-known for his speech of 2009, in which he claimed that a “perfect storm” of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy were all “operating in the same time frame” and would come to a head in 2030.
In 2013, with snowstorms battering the country, Beddington’s replacement is in the perfect position to keep battering politicians about the need for drastic action.
Sir Mark Walport – good luck.