The price of the cold

In the old days they called it winter, but as climate change has turned meteorology into a strange anomaly it has now become known as a "Siberian cold front". This week much of the province of Malaga saw a covering of snow; you don't have to have such a fantastic memory, but just be over a certain age, to recall that snow in the north of the Axarquía, in Las Pedrizas or in the Sierra de las Nieves (which is called that for a reason, although future generations may need photographic evidence) was, if not a yearly occurrence, at least once every two years. But today snow is news, just like anything that changes the routine of the majority of people.

The planet has been suffering abuse for too many decades now and winters are growing shorter and less wintry. Perhaps it would be good to remember that this week, in case the climate change denialists are tempted to use the snow and cold as an opportunistic argument.

This week's cold and snow, which for some meant a chance to take the children to see snow for the first time, while others suffered as they struggled to heat their homes, has come hand in hand with a hike in the electricity bills.

It is thought that every household in Spain will pay on average 100 euros more this year because the new system, brought in when José Manuel Soria was minister, can put their rates up for their users.

Wednesday was the coldest day so far this winter and it was on Wednesday that the cost of electricity reached its peak, a hike of 30 per cent. This is because, according to the official explanation, the price of electricity on the power wholesale market hit a maximum at Tuesday's auction. This new system, approved by a minister who has since failed to recall that he had companies in Panama, stipulates that one day's auction price is reflected in the next day's tariff. Wednesday's auction resulted in new increases, affected Thursday's price. The cold does not come cheap.