Latest Issue

Millennium briefing: climate change

Climate is complex. Greenhouse gases, living systems, the circulation of the oceans and the planet's orbit all influence the earth's climate. But can the study of past climate change allow us to predict future trends?

By Philip Ball   February 2000

The last year of the last millennium was its hottest. There was no global drought; no summer heatwave swept across the planet. Yet enough months were, quietly, that little bit above average to add up to a record breaker, for Britain at least. What conclusions should we draw? The most popular one is that this is the result of a human-induced greenhouse effect. That is almost certainly true, but the connection is not as obvious as it seems. Why scientists have been hedging their bets on the matter, when there is evidence of global warming by about half a degree…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect