In a statement to the Commons on Monday, the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond informed MPs that the government would consider whether more money needs to be spent on equipment to deal with snow and subzero conditions. The chief scientific adviser to the government, Professor John Beddington, will work alongside transport operators to see if plans can be made to lessen the impact of arctic winters.
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) claims the inability of major European cities to cope with severe weather conditions over the past few years shows how we may be ill-prepared to deal with unpredictable climate patterns.
According to Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction: “being prepared goes beyond prediction. A complete and effective early warning system…requires planners to understand the risks they face, so that they are able to respond appropriately.”
This begs the question: will we not regret investing heavily in cold weather equipment such as snowploughs further down the line? We have always had significant variations in our weather. Three cold winters should not diminish the fact that we have had two decades of relatively mild winters. The current cold snap, or “Frozen Britain” if you prefer, is not part of a long term climatic pattern. 2010 was one of the warmest years since records began in 1850 and the “Noughties” was the warmest decade on record.
The weather is not the same as climate.