LONDON — Huge gales have been sweeping Britain, while temperatures have soared, leaving spring plants sprouting long before they should and wildlife bewildered. Its all part of global warming — or so many people assert. Whether they are right will be impossible to judge for many years to come. Maybe we are indeed seeing the first uncomfortable results of generations of pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Maybe it is all part of a temporary blip, or a cycle, in weather patterns of the kind that has existed many times before in history. It is hard to tell.

All that can be said with certainty is that people the world over are now getting worried. Trend or no trend, the violent weather patterns of recent times give the world a taste of what might happen if global warming really gets a grip and the carbon content in the atmosphere reaches the fatal 550 parts per million — at which point it is believed the weather will turn impossibly ferocious, the seas will rise, and floods and droughts will destroy our civilization.

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