Sections of the right wing media have gone on the offensive – over snow.
The Daily Express newspaper has even run a front page and several articles claiming that the cold weather proves that global warming is a sham.
But it is the Daily Express’s arguments that are false, not those of climate scientists and activists.
Global warming is one aspect of climate change. It means that there is a long-term trend for the planet’s temperature to rise.
So average global temperatures are some 0.75 degrees Celsius warmer today than they were 100 years ago.
But this doesn’t mean that there will never be any fluctuations in weather or climate – or that there will never be any snow!
On the contrary, climate change refers to a pattern that can be measured by indicators such as average temperatures and rainfall – or an alteration in the frequency of extreme or abrupt weather conditions, such as extreme cold, floods, heat waves, droughts and storms.
These changes spell disaster for ordinary people. Since 1950 the number of heatwaves has increased.
More regions are affected by drought. There are more incidences of heavy rain leading to floods.
The UK Met Office says that global warming has doubled the risk of heatwaves.
One heatwave in 2003 caused 35,000 extra deaths across Europe.
By 2040 such heatwaves are “likely to be commonplace”.
Since the 1970s, the trends for tropical storms and hurricanes show increases in their intensity and duration.
The percentage of hurricanes that reach categories four or five – the same category as Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans in 2005 – rose from 20 percent in the 1970s to 35 percent in the 1990s.
According to the Met Office and the World Meteorological Organisation, the first decade of the 21st century is the warmest since records began – by a long way.
They will rank 2009 soon and predict that it will be the fifth warmest year on record.
Meanwhile Met Office figures show that the years since 2000 were around 0.18 degrees warmer, on average, than the years in the 1990s.
They also show that, since the 1970s, every decade has seen a similar rate of increase.
The fact that there has been snow in Britain and other parts of the world does not contradict the idea that climate change is happening – nor wipe out the fact of global warming.