Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More weather

A Met Office crying wolf, flinging about yellow warnings like so many yellow cards, risks not being believed in emergencies. So obsessed with charges for not issuing cautions, forecasters now shower them like confetti. Averse to complaints by floodees or drivers who can’t tell it’s cold enough for ice, there is now a veritable rainbow of alerts, so that nobody can claim, “We didn’t know.” Five inches of snow were expected in Lincolnshire and hazardous conditions yesterday. We had a flurry or two but nothing to worry about.

Like the Ruritanian shepherd boy who liked to shout alarm, the Met Office should remember that when wolves do come, nobody pays attention and sheep perish.

Last year in Lincolnshire. We had real snow.

We have always been interested in weather but we haven’t always been scared of it. I blame attention-seeking climate-obsessives on television. “Gale Force Winds” sound more serious than “Gales”. Talk of “Blizzard” or “White-out” gains more attention than “snow”. Never mind the closures of airports with snowfalls their Canadian counterparts would laugh off, or frozen points paralysing railways, forecasters are terrified of writs, real or imagined, from compensation seekers.

As with the unfortunate Italian earthquake scientists, now serving six years for manslaughter after failing to predict the tremor at L’Aquila when 309 people died, there is little sense in it. Samuel Croxall (c.1690 - 1752) Anglican churchman, writer and translator noted for his edition of Aesop’s Fables, summed it up with a question on political alarmism, of which we should be as much aware in our time as he was in his: "When alarmed with imaginary dangers in respect of the public, till the cry grows quite stale and threadbare, how can it be expected we should know when to guard ourselves against real ones?"

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