It is traditional for me, at this season, to remind readers of the Prince of Wales’s prophecy, spoken in Brazil in March 2009. His Royal Highness warned that the world had ‘only 100 months to avert irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse’. So only four years now remain.
But as I write, the Met Office is meeting in Exeter for an unprecedented summit to work out why it has predicted for the past 13 years that the British climate will get warmer only to find, in 12 out of the 13, that it has got colder. No one is admitting, of course, that the end of the world is not nigh, but one does notice much self-exculpatory talk of how weather is affected by ‘a host of other factors’.
I cannot prove it — and nor can anyone, either way — but I think it is a reasonable working assumption that the climate will not collapse in 2017. I suspect that Prince Charles quietly thinks so too. Why else does he bother to take on his mother’s duties as she grows older?