Unseasonably balmy February days can be pleasant, but scientists are increasingly linking extremes of heat, storms and other meteorological events to global warming

Over thousands of years, like humans everywhere, we became used to thinking of the sun, rain and wind as the backdrop to our lives – external entities over which we had no dominion. In the 21st century, this has become a delusion. The unpredictability of weather in the UK, particularly during summers that many wish were drier and sunnier, is associated by many people with what it means to be British. It has big variations – temperatures in the north of Scotland can be up to 20C lower than in southern England – and is characteristically unsettled due to the jet stream.

Its unreliability may have aided those wishing to avoid the truth about global warming. But the evidence of our senses, as well as what meteorologists and other scientists tell us, is becoming overwhelming. While many people are enjoying this week’s record-breaking temperatures – 20.3C in Wales on Monday, and 21.2C in London on Tuesday, the hottest winter days on record – many of the same people are also worried. Extreme or unusual weather in the UK is becoming widely recognised as an indication that the climate is changing, though this realisation has been a long time coming.

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