Cleadon Weather Station


Weather Station

ELTA 1951-2000

Local Climate


Past months

Winter Snow Events

Climate change
























In brief, on the issue of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I am in little doubt that AGW does exist, but feel that there is still considerable uncertainty as to its extent. The available evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the world has been warming (with accelerated warming in the 1990s and then a stall afterwards, most likely due to the exceptional El Nino of 1998). It also overwhelmingly suggests that human activity is contributing to this warming. The serious question marks lie over how much of an effect human activities are having, and how the feedback systems will operate over the 21st century in response.

Climate models are the best thing we have to go by, and they overwhelmingly suggest a significant warming trend over the 21st century caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But climate models rely upon the assumptions that are planted into them (the stronger the assumptions, the stronger the conclusions can be, but the more risk there is of them being heavily flawed). Some of these assumptions include feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds that in reality are not well understood. The fact that we have a strong consensus from these models is a compelling case for their accuracy, but as history has shown many times, if there's a consensus about something, it doesn't guarantee that it will be right.

Many refer to climate change when they really mean anthropogenic global warming but this sets them up for the argument, climate has always changed and always will. The fact is that climate will always change, regardless of what we do about it- but we can take steps to reduce our impacts on the climate system as they could well add unwanted side-effects into the climate system, as well as a rate of warming that those of us in poorer countries may be unable to adapt to.

Regarding what action we should take, I argue that we should focus on the wider socio-environmental-economic issue of working towards sustainable development and sustainable living, instead of just "tackling carbon emissions" or trying to maximise economic growth and consumption in the blind faith that unrestrained growth will solve all of our problems.. We will have to move away from systems that are based on continuous growth and towards systems that focus on sustaining a reasonable quality of living at minimal cost to the environment- we may need non-consumptive methods of fulfilment, such as inter-personal relatioinships to play a larger role relative to acquisition of material possessions than at present for example. The reason is simple, even if it turns out that AGW has been seriously overestimated by the current generation of climate models, we are using up finite supplies of fossil fuels- the same behaviours that might be causing AGW are also non-sustainable for other reasons. Yet we also need to sustain a decent quality of living for future generations and maintain decent levels of economic activity to enable future innovation and environmental progress to be cost-effective, so draconianism on the issue may be counterproductive. This forms the basis for the environment section of my manifesto.

One thing is clear- Cleadon's climate has changed significantly in recent decades, even in the period since I began recording, and temperatures have risen significantly in 11 of the 12 months of the year, though oddly December has run counter to the general trend. Furthermore, records at nearby Met Office stations such as Durham University Observatory and Newcastle Weather Centre (which closed in October 2005) support this, and suggest that the early 1990s marked the beginning of an abrupt warming trend that started in the late 1980s.