Three and a half years ago, I was writing about the possibility that the Gulf Stream was weakening because of the melting of the icebergs and ice caps in Greenland and Canada. The ice caps are made of fresh water and their melting into the North Atlantic Ocean disturbs the existing sea currents, like the Gulf Stream responsible for Northwest Europe's exceptionally warm climate for its latitude. Without the Gulf Stream, the British Isles, Benelux, France, Germany and Scandinavia would all have a climate like the one of Siberia or Canada. In contrast, even in Scandinavia the winters are surprisingly mild compared to Canada or Russia.

But things are starting to change. Both this winter and this spring have been among the coldest ever recorded in north-western Europe. We are at the end of May and it still feels like we haven't really left winter, or at least a typical winter, in which it isn't unusual to have day temperatures of +5 to +15°C. That's exactly what we have had non-stop this month, a good 5 to 10°C under the seasonal averages. This winter was by far the harshest I have ever experienced in Europe. We had about two months of nearly continuous snow, as opposed to the usual two or three days.

All this just isn't normal. Experiencing one or two months of odd weather, beating the all-time records of high or low temperatures, may not be a reason for concern. But five months in a row and with no sign of abating ? That's worrisome.

This summer Greenland will be virtually ice free, for the first time in recorded history. I don't think it's a coincidence.

But what if the Gulf Stream is indeed dying, or moving away from Europe ? What are going to be the repercussions for Europeans ? Not only will it be less pleasant to live in northern Europe, but the heating expenses will soar through the roof, seriously affecting the budget of a lot of families. Depressions will be more widespread because of the gloomier weather. Unfortunately, if it is the Gulf Stream moving away, little can be done about it, at least within our lifetime.