HL Deb 29 March 1979 vol 399 cc1657-8

3.25 p.m.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the recent meteorological conference has been able to explain the prolonged period of low temperature in the United Kingdom during recent months while the Southern Hemisphere has experienced unusually high temperatures.


My Lords, the World Climate Conference, held in February, was concerned with drawing up a long-term programme of international collaboration. The reasons for particular climatic anomalies, such as those mentioned by the noble Earl, were not discussed.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, I am not sure whether I can thank the noble Lord for that reply. Can the noble Lord's examination of this matter give any indication why the winds over the last four months—winds which are said to be cyclonic—appear to be unidirectional from the Arctic towards the Equator? If this situation continues, can the noble Lord arrange for information to be made available to motorists—possibly on a similar basis to that for aviators and sailors—so that people do not have to spend the night in a snowdrift on the main roads of this country?


My Lords, the Meteorological Office is examining observational evidence to find out whether it provides an explanation why, or indicates a method by which, the severity of the winter could have been predicted.


My Lords, will the noble Lord agree that the temperature in the United Kingdom will probably rise in the next four weeks?


My Lords, following the General Election of October 1974, we enjoyed two particularly good summers—1975 and 1976—and I have no doubt that the next two summers will be equally good.


My Lords, can the Minister say whether in the World Climate Conference any connection has been found between the increase of fossil fuel burning and global deforestation and the apparent weather changes mentioned in the Question?


Yes, my Lords; the World Climate Conference has drawn attention to the possibility that there could be changes in the global climate within a few decades induced by man himself. The most likely cause is the increase in carbon dioxide content due to the burning of fossil fuels which will tend to produce a warming of the surface of the earth.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware, with regard to his reply about the prospect of summers to come, that he should be reminded about Shakespear's comment that, short summers lightly follow early springs?