“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Great Storm of 1987

It was discussed on Radio 4 (BBC) tonight, and the anchor asked whether we remembered where we were. I do. I was in the New Building, a Christopher Wren building at Magdalen College. I was living in the room Oscar Wilde used to live in, what a cool room. The building is made of massive blocks of limestone, and so the howling intensity of the wind didn't touch it. But it was scary. Across southern England it caused 2bn damage, and killed 15 people.

It turns out, as the show demonstrated, that the Meteorological Office at the time used pencil charts of the isobars, not real time computer modeling.

Now think about how recently it became possible to map climate in real time. How new it is for us to be able even to think global warming. Twenty five years ago we couldn't even produce computer renderings of weather.

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