It has been a hot year. The average temperature in Britain for 2006 was
higher than at any time since records began in 1659. Globally, it looks set to
be the sixth hottest year on record. The signs during the past 12 months have
been all around us. Little winter snow in the Alpine ski resorts, continuing
droughts in Africa, mountain glaciers melting faster than at any time in the
past 5,000 years, disappearing Arctic sea ice, Greenland's ice sheet sliding
into the sea. Oh, and a hosepipe ban in southern England.
You could be forgiven for thinking that you've heard it all before. You may
think it's time to turn the page and read something else. But you'd be wrong.
2006 will be remembered by climatologists as the year in which the potential
scale of global warming came into focus. And the problem can be summarised in
one word: feedback.
During the past year, scientific findings emerged that made even the most
doom-laden predictions ...