• Kimberley Greed
  • 24 January 2013

Climate Change is snow joke

With most of the country currently covered with snow and ice, climate change has once again been the victim of contention and misguided scepticism in the press. This week London Mayor Boris Johnson published a column in the Telegraph which, despite its caveats, sought to carefully undermine the science behind climate change.

Johnson claims that the recent snowy winters and cold snaps could be the result of changing solar activity rather than the human induced greenhouse effect. Among sceptics this has often been a go-to argument used to relinquish us of a sense of responsibility for our planet. I am not prepared to delve into the immensely complex science of climate change here, but I think it is worth noting a few key things which Johnson and many sceptics may have neglected to mention.

The concept of climate change science is increasingly mainstream, with huge consensus from many scientific disciplines, governments and other organisations; all accepting the concept that warming is due to our increasing greenhouse gases emissions.

Climate change impacts are extremely varied in locality. Global warming really is what it says on the tin – ‘global’. Global climate trends are warming, but importantly, this has vastly differentiated effects between regions of the world, for a multitude of complex reasons. Air flows, ocean currents and latitudinal differences are just some of the factors which account for differentiated impacts. These factors mean that delicate natural flows and cycles can be disturbed or imbalanced and as a result they can lead to regional alterations in climate conditions; including more snow.

Variations in solar activity have, in the past, led to debates over the cause of climate change. However, it is now widely accepted that solar variations are not responsible for the warming that we have seen in the last century. Whilst solar activity does influence temperatures on Earth, it is understood to be a different and separate issue to climate change, as stated in the IPPC third and fourth assessments.

While there is still much in the way of uncertainty regarding climate change predictions, we cannot deny that through our actions we have caused a chain of effects, from the greenhouse effect, global warming, and regional climate change. But science aside, I would argue even to the few sceptics such as Mr Johnson; that as inhabitants of this planet, and with complete dependence upon its resources and complex systems and cycles; we cannot afford to risk our long-term quality of life and survival for the sake of political debate.

To find out more about the causes and effects of climate change, and ways in which you can manage your impact upon the environment, you can attend Workplace Law’s IEMA courses in Environmental Management. For more information on our courses you can visit:

  • For details on the science behind climate change and climate variability you can access the IPPC scientific assessment reports: 

  • To see the full column by Boris Johnson you can visit: