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Weather Bureau p

One of the questions I have been asked most often over 30+ years as a 'weather man' is "Do you be- lieve in climate change?" (or global warming as it used to be called more often). The straightforward answer has always been an emphatic YES. The basic physics behind it is simple and the theory was clear back in the 1970s and '80s when we were starting out in our careers, but the majority of the public and governments either knew nothing about it or chose to ignore what they heard.

One notable exception, surprisingly to many, was PM Margaret Thatcher, a scientist herself, who
created the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1990, one of the world
's leading climate prediction centres. Generally I am an optimist about most things, but I have always been very pessimistic about society's ability to address climate change. There were too many vested interests and no-one wanted to contemplate the implications of how they might have to change their lifestyles ... politicians focus on the timescale of the next election rather than the next century ... and what's the point of us changing if the Americans, Chinese, Indians, choose-your-favourite-scapegoat, are going to go on pol- luting? And let's be honest, most of us meteorologists were as guilty as anyone with our personal carbon footprints!

How things have changed as we enter the new decade of the 2020's! The evidence is now overwhelming that climate change is not just a far-off prediction, but is visi- bly happening. The last decade 2010-19 is now officially the warmest since records began in 1850, and the last 5 years were the 5 warmest on record, with three of them with a global average temperature exceeding 1.0 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

During the early part of the 21st Century, climate sceptics loved to say that the globe had not warmed at all since 1997 so clearly the predictions of continued warming were wrong - 1997 was in fact an exceptionally warm year, so was a con- venient reference point to start from if

Closer to home, just this week, the Manager of Sidmouth Golf Club wrote to members about how he is planning to im- prove drainage on the course to cope with wetter winters, totally convinced he is seeing climate change in action.

Of course, we have always had extremes of weather and records have always been broken, but one further statistic for the last decade illustrates the trend: in these 10 years the UK saw 8 high-temperature records broken (including the high- est temperature ever recorded in the UK, in 2019) and only one low temperature record. Many of today's extremes are expected to become the norm in a matter of decades so we need to adapt to live with them.

What about my pessimism that we can't do anything about it? Actually, we have moved far faster and further with re- newable energy and energy efficiency measures than I thought we would. Young Greta Thunberg with her campaign of school strikes, has raised the profile of the need to take serious action in a way which thousands of campaigners before her never managed.

I am heartened by these changes, but at the same time the CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to rise as fast as ever, so sadly I remain very pessimistic - it is Greta's generation and her children's generations which will suffer the conse- quences of our actions and the world needs to do much, much more if we are to limit warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees.

Ken Mylne