There is a misconception that global warming will create a more pleasant climate in Ireland and the UK. This could not be farther from the truth. We are expected to experience more extremes in climate. This will not only affect our environment but also our economy and the very way we live.
There is the idea that a warmer Earth means vineyards in the countryside and Mediterranean beach holidays on our coasts. Rising sea levels, floods, heat-waves, hose-pipe bans and malaria could well be the main results of our big gamble with the Earth's climate. Certainly these are all risks. But they are not the only possible scenarios. There is an alternative future of frostier winters, later springs and earlier autumns. This is what we may have to face if global warming shuts down the Atlantic heat conveyor which is also known as the Gulf Stream.
The ocean is a moderating influence on climate in Western Europe. Warm water from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico flows north and east across the Atlantic. Heat from the tropics is released to the atmosphere and makes our climate warmer and wetter than expected from the latitude we're at. Were this flow to stop our winters would become like those at similar latitudes of northern Canada. Just a slow-down would have serious consequences. Paradoxically global warming for us could mean our climate being even colder, wetter and stormier!
Web Links to climate change:
Stern Review Report
Climate change BBC
Defra, UK - Environmental Protection - Climate Change