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From: The Socialist issue 697, 7 December 2011: Con-Dems pile on the misery: ‘Enough is enough’

Search site for keywords: Climate change - Global warming - Global - Food

Climate change and extreme weather

Pete Mason
Flooding in the centre of Gloucester, 2007, photo Chris Moore

Flooding in the centre of Gloucester, 2007, photo Chris Moore

Scotland enjoyed its warmest November on record and the UK's autumn was the second warmest since records began in 1910, the Met Office confirmed this week.

Yet: "Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said the figures should not be seen as evidence of global warming" the London Metro warned. "It's very difficult to attribute anything on a regional scale to things like climate change" Williams told the BBC.

Well, perhaps, if taken in isolation. But 2011 "caps a decade that ties the record as the hottest ever measured", the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced in its annual report on climate trends and extreme weather events, unveiled at UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

The WMO shows that "Thirteen of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half." (Telegraph, 3 December 2011)

After a slight slowing of the world's warming trend, 2010 boosted CO2 emissions with increased vigour. This trend has clearly continued in 2011.

In reality, the question is not whether a particular example of extreme weather - such as the mild autumn in the UK, the murderous drought in Sudan or the 12.8 million people affected by flooding in Thailand - can be attributable to climate change, but how much climate change has worsened the weather in each case.

Worldwide, global warming has made bad conditions intolerable. Food production has been affected.

Oxfam has released a new report, Extreme weather endangers food security: 2010-11: A grim foretaste of future suffering and hunger? (28 November 2011).

Extreme weather has helped to push tens of millions into hunger and poverty in a grim foretaste of a warmed world, Oxfam warns.

"Extreme weather like the droughts in Russia, China and Brazil and the flooding in Pakistan and Australia [in 2010] have contributed to a level of food price volatility we haven't seen since the oil crisis of 40 years ago." Socialists ask why food is subject to the whims of the 'free market', when it leads to famine?

The Met Office does not deny global warming or its cause in "human activity" (aka capitalism). But claiming that the extreme November temperatures in the UK are "very difficult to attribute" to climate change can be misused in the black propaganda of "Big Oil" against the science of global warming.

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