I got caught by the cold weather twice this week. On Monday my car was trapped in London, I have a flat there and the underground car park has a ramp that I woke to find was under eight inches of snow. Some determined digging and a good run up meant I got out eventually. I travelled through the surreal streets of London which at 6am were still almost completely white, no buses, no trains and hardly any traffic - but I managed to get to my client in Basildon on time.
And then again on Thursday as I travelled home I very nearly got stuck all night on Telegraph hill. I arrived where three lanes narrow to two at the top just as the traffic was slowing to a stop in the face of driving snow; my wheels slipped and the car in front stopped and in a moment the entire traffic was stationary. In moments the snow was inches deep on the bonnet and I knew we could be in serious trouble.
Luckily I was only two or three cars back from the summit and happened to have my snow chains in the boot (we are off skiing this coming week) and with a bit of pushing and wheelspinning we got two or three stranded cars moving again, mine included. Once rolling we had a terrifying trundle through the dark down past growing chaos on the opposite (Exeter bound) carriageway including a very scary descent for which I am very glad I had chains on.
The Police were arriving in force as we reached Chudleigh although little did we realise that the chaos on the A380 was dwarfed by the blocked A38 and that it would be many hours before some motorinsts would be home and dry.
The weeks drama reminded me of the very cold winter of 1982 when I had my frozen food business. At the time we had just comissioned a new and very expensive deep freeze cold store and the very day it was completed the outside temperature was actually lower than the coldroom operated at!
So I am afraid I remain a bit cynical about the Global Warming debate. I note that when the debate began it was used to explain the drought summers we had in the late 1990's - then when the weather noticeably cooled off in the UK 'global warming' suddenly meant that the UK would get colder. I can't help be a bit suspicious, when I was a student the 'green' debate revolved about theories that we would be wiped out by a looming Ice age caused by atmospheric pollution blocking sunshine.
I don't doubt that CO2 emissions could become a problem, and we are right to err on the side of caution. I do believe the science of the greenhouse 'effect' has potential; and I think we are right to be concerned about it. We tackled water pollution, litter and smog in the 1960's; we averted disaster over the Ozone layer in the 1980's and I am confident that having spotted the potential for excess CO2 to damage the climate we will act accordingly this time, and in time.
However, I don't think this is an excuse for campaigners to regularly suggest that human civilisation is on the brink of oblivion. This winter, and last summer, might remind a few more of us what 'normal' British weather looks and feels like.