We need doomsday scenario

THE worst hurricane ever to hit the northern USA brought a wall of water 20ft high crashing onto Long Island and killed 600 people in New York and Connecticut.

THE worst hurricane ever to hit the northern USA brought a wall of water 20ft high crashing onto Long Island and killed 600 people in New York and Connecticut.

The ninth strongest earthquake ever recorded set off a tsunami that caused havoc across Indonesia. In China, almost a million people died when the Yellow River burst its banks.

In August, Devon and Cornwall suffered the worst thunderstorms seen in England for 70 years. There were severe floods all across the country.

March was the warmest on record, but there were sharp frosts in June and snow in July. November also brought record high temperatures, but was followed by a bitterly cold December.

The year was 1938, England's wettest on record. Most people in the country were probably more worried about the growing threat of war with Germany than about climate change.

Weather events in China and the Banda Sea probably went unnoticed around the tea tables of Ipswich.

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There was no inkling of the interest in the Far East that all too soon would grip the nation. No one had any idea that in just seven years America would drop on Japan a bomb that would obsess the next generation as the power that would end the world.

It may well be that for 40-odd years we really did live in constant danger of nuclear wipeout. Maybe we still do.

But it is an odd thing about humankind that we always seem to need a Doomsday scenario. And of course, supremely arrogant beings that we are, we always have to believe it's all about us.

In the Middle Ages, it was our sin that was going to bring about the world's end.

The Black Death of 1348-9 - which killed a higher proportion of the global population than any war or disease since - was believed by many to be God's judgement on sinful Man.

Which is not very different, when you think about it, from the utter faith in the 20th century that too-clever-by-half scientists and too-stupid-for-words politicians would between them bring about our end in a mushroom-cloud.

Which brings us to the politician whose monstrous evangelising ego took us into the Iraq war on a false premise about weapons of mass destruction.

The same vainglorious politician who has now declared war on nothing less than the whole world's climate.

The sight of little Tony shaking his fist at storms, hurricanes and the threat of impending ice age would be hilarious but for one thing. When he says global warming is “so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence,” he may just be right.

His government's record on environmental issues is not brilliant. And it may well be that he's only taking a green position now because the media - even Hollywood - have finally woken up to the danger.

But if there's a chance - even a tiny chance - that he can influence his pal GW Bush to reverse, or even slow down, America's rampant wasting of the world, this could be Blair's finest hour.

Of course, if we really are heading for an ice age, there won't be much Bush, Blair or any other mere human being can do about it.

But in the meantime we can give our scary weather stories better media coverage than they did in 1938. That time, the devastated people of New England didn't even know there was a hurricane coming until it hit them.

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