The World Meteorological Office has cleverly chosen one of Europe’s chillier years to hold a major conference on the climate, now in progress in Geneva.
While day-to-day: changes in the thermometer may have little direct connection with the longer, slower rhythms of climatic change, it is an irresistible human urge to link them. The commuter delayed by frozen railway points or the motorist in a snowdrift may, if he is of a philosophical disposition, turn to contemplation of the next Ice Age.
Nor is he necessarily wrong. For some experts at the Geneva meeting believe that the eccentricities of recent years have been evidence of a climatic change towards much greater variability. Drought, floods, the failure of monsoons and the run of hard winters are all evidence, they say, that the world has come to the end of a spell of even-tempered weather which began in about 1910 and lasted until about 1960. This period has even been called “a little tropical age” by one of the more quotable of climatologists, Professor Reid Bryson.
What follows the tropics could be harder to live with — weather more typical of the 19th century or even of the “little Ice Age” which lasted between 1430 and 1850.
February 16, 1979
According to Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick, the first couple decades of the “Little Tropical Age” were among the coldest of the past millennium.