While warmer weather might be good for Northern Ireland, some of the extreme glimpses of climate change are alarming

News Letter editorial of Monday July 19 2021:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

To get an idea of how hot it has been in recent days in Northern Ireland consider Friday night in Killowen, Co Down.

The temperature barely dropped below 15 Celsius (which is 59 Fahrenheit).

This would be a respectable daytime summer temperature, let alone a lowest point in the evening.

The temperature on Saturday seems to have been the hottest ever recorded, touching a sweltering 31.2C (88F) in Ballywatticock, close to Newtownards.

The Met Office says this figure was out of kilter with nearby weather stations, so has yet to be fully verified. But even if it was wrong, it was a record day for NI because the thermometer did reach 30.8C (87F) in Killowen, equalling NI’s hottest ever temperature recorded in July 1983 and June 1976.

Northern Ireland is normally the mildest part of the British Isles, with the Republic, Scotland, Wales and England all having in previous years surpassed 32C (90F) and all having more extreme coldest ever records than NI too.

Our more moderate conditions might come to be something for which the Province is grateful if climate change turns out to be as severe as the worst predictions.

There is scientific dispute both as to the scale of climate change and the extent to which humans are responsible for it, but there is barely any dispute that the climate has indeed changed and that human emissions have been a significant factor in that. It is therefore prudent to work on the precautionary principle and to promote cleaner energy sourcing and more careful use of fossil fuels.

Recent temperatures recorded in places including the west of Canada have been shockingly extreme, as have been the wild fires in the western United States.

Northern Ireland is a society that can comfortably accommodate warmer and sunnier weather and we might be grateful for such change. But global weather patterns are panning out in sometimes alarming ways that are hardly welcome.

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Acting Editor