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By Ray Fleming

THE Balearics certainly had a grandstand view of the full eclipse of the Moon on Wednesday night. This relatively minor event passed off as predicted but was immediately followed yesterday morning by reports that the sun is not behaving as it should. The US National Solar Observatory has concluded that the frequency of sun spots may decline in the next decade with a consequent small fall in temperatures on planet earth.

When I heard this news on the radio I had a little bet with myself that the opponents of measures against climate change would seize on it as another excuse to go on using pollution-causing fossil fuels and doing nothing to prevent global temperature rises on a scale that will probably change the way millions of people live. Sure enough, there were soon calls to disband the climate change lobby and get back to business as usual. But, even if the US Solar Observatory's findings are confirmed their impact will probably be felt for only ten years with a decline of only 0.5C in global temperatures during that period -- compared to the 4C increase anticipated from the many other uses.

The right response to this news, therefore, would be to welcome it as providing a possible very small but useful pause in the pace of global warming during which intensified measures can be taken to face the big battles ahead.