THERE is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. And, who would have thought it, but here comes the BBC in sackcloth and ashes.

Always in the past, the corporation has not allowed the argument against the global warming hypothesis to be put – arguing that the issue is so serious that it would be wrong to broadcast anything which might encourage the slightest doubting of the dogma that the earth is warming up catastrophically.

But now, in the holy of holies, the BBC weather website, Paul Hudson, the likeable northern weatherman, tells us that the temperature has not risen since 1998. He says: “It is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temper-atures.

And our climate models did not forecast it even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.”

Global warming sceptics are not at all surprised by this finding. In fact, they have been telling us for years that for the past decade the temperature has been going down. This is not what the warming fanatics want to hear, but it is the truth. But sceptics have always insisted that fluctuations in the earth’s temperature are caused by the variable activity of the sun.

Now, the sceptics have found support from the leading solar scientist Piers Corbyn, who is so convinced by his discovery that he intends to announce it to the international scientific community at a London conference at the end of the month. He says: “Solarcharged particles are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.”

Moreover, Paul Hudson tells us: “The oceans, especially the Pacific, and global temperatures are correlated. In the last few years the Pacific has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.”

The warming and cooling periods of the oceans proves to be cyclical and each cycle lasts about 30 years. This fits with the length of the recent warming period, which was approximately from 1970 to 1998, the warmest year on record. Now it seems we are in a new cooling period which will, on past experience, last another 30 years.

This makes perfect sense to me, for I grew up during the last cooling period – the Forties to the Seventies. And guess what? Just as the current hysteria imagines a catastrophic warming, the scientists of the last cooling period were consistently threatening us with a new ice age. Whereas the calm and sane approach indicates that we go through alternate per-iods of warming and cooling and these, as it were, correct one another.

I was talking to a professor of geology the other week who has made a point of studying the earth’s climate not just over decades, but millennia. She said: “It’s preposterous to think that human beings change the climate.

The natural history of our climate is that we have occasional warm periods and an ice age about every ten thousand years. As a matter of fact, we’re overdue an ice age now.”

To discover the truth in these matters is no easy thing. No doubt the global warming industry is a nice little earner for research institutes which get money out of governments by frightening the rest of us to death with their doom-laden predictions. At least the BBC can be congratulated for at long last permitting an honest debate on the matter.

■ Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.