Tuesday 30 November 2010

Thank heavens for global warming

Are you wondering just how bad the weather must have been in the olden days, before the onset of global warming?

Then wonder no more. Because I sat next to my aunt at her 86th birthday lunch in Morpeth on Sunday, and was able to ask her to cast her mind back over the decades. And the word is that, throughout her childhood, she fervently hoped for a “white birthday” on November 28 each year, but it never happened.

The Wise Woman of Morpeth
Yes, I know that true believers will hasten to point out that cold snaps will still occur within their sacred warming trend, which also allegedly makes extreme weather more likely. But for lousy timing, it would be hard to beat the Met Office’s announcement on Friday that 2010 is shaping up to be one of the two warmest years on record.

Unless perhaps someone in authority presented a “garage of the year” award for mechanical excellence to Coco the clown, seconds before his own exhaust blew up and all his car doors fell off.

Still, at least as I surveyed the growing accumulation of snow outside my house I was able to console myself with the thought that the drifts customary on my hilltop were completely absent. Because there was no wind.

My back gate: not easy to open
Some sheds. With snow on them.

So in a few years’ time when the Northumbrian uplands are festooned with wind turbines and everyone’s electric heating is turned to maximum, we may be in a little bit of a pickle.

Has Coco the clown perhaps moved on from cars and wallpapering to the formulation of official energy policy?

I have a new all-purpose theory on the Government’s strategy, and am increasingly convinced that the turbines are simply going to be erected as a warning to us sinners, and will not actually be connected to the National Grid. It’s precisely in tune with the novel plan of building two aircraft carriers but not having any planes to put on them, and keeping nuclear submarines but scrapping the newly procured Nimrod aircraft that provided their air cover.

You watch: they may build the new (and unnecessary) high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, but will they buy any trains to run on it? Why not save money by just hiring the replacement buses that will be used most of the time anyway?

Egg yields heading the same way as Irish bank bonds
Similarly, when I was out and about at the weekend, in defiance of police instructions, I came across a number of tractors with snowploughs and nifty, well-stocked gritting trailers, but not one of them was actually spreading any grit. Clearly no-one is prepared to run the risk of admitting that they have run out of the stuff after last winter’s debacle.

Those tractors looked like they should really have been delivering hay to snowbound sheep or flailing hedges to make sure there were no winter berries left for the birds. What happened to those big yellow council lorries we used to see? Sent to the scrapheap with Ark Royal and its Harriers? Were their drivers unable to get work because of the snow? Or are the authorities just roping in the farming community to show us all the Big Society in action?

But let this not be a piece of unalloyed cynicism. Snow can provide glorious fun for some, and I could hardly sleep for childlike excitement last Thursday night as I looked forward to getting out with my young son to build my first snowman in almost half a century.
We could not even buy a carrot for his nose: talk about hardship
Unfortunately Charlie rapidly decided that snow was a cold, wet, unpleasant nuisance rather than a source of joy. Let us hope that he comes to see it in a more positive light in the next few years, before global warming really kicks in and he relapses into the long haul of Meldrew-like moaning about it that is his paternal genetic inheritance.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

No comments: