Evidence of warming planet not likely to quell debate

In this July 1, 2014 file photo, Amanda Ouellet wipes her face with a cold wet towel to cool off while working outside holding an advertising sign in Las Vegas. Federal science officials announced Friday that for the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of University of California Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) The Associated Press
It will likely come as no shock that 2014 was the hottest year on the planet. Scientists have been saying it would probably go down in the record books once they tallied the data.

This will make little difference, we suspect, in the ongoing debate on climate change. The drip, drip, drip of facts long ago ceased to matter in this debate.

But facts they are, the scientists said today, according to the New York Times.

In the annals of climatology, 2014 now surpasses 2010 as the warmest year in a global temperature record that stretches back to 1880. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human emissions and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and to the natural world.

Of the large inhabited land areas, only the eastern half of the United States recorded below-average temperatures in 2014, a sort of mirror image of the unusual heat in the West. Some experts think the stuck-in-place weather pattern that produced those extremes in the United States is itself an indirect consequence of the release of greenhouse gases, though that is not proven.

“Why do we keep getting so many record-warm years?” Gavin A. Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s because the planet is warming. The basic issue is the long-term trend, and it is not going away.”

This is what the planet looked like.

NOAA-Global-2014-YTD

If you are younger than 30 years old, you have never lived in a year that was below the 20th century average temperature on the planet.

What does it all mean? The Washington Post posed the question today to 20 scientists.

“The fact that NOAA rated 2014 as the warmest year on record should put to rest the bogus idea often espoused by climate change deniers that ‘global warming stopped in 1998,’” the head of meteorology at Weather Underground said. “Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that humans are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet to the record levels observed in 2014.”

Fat chance.

“I think it is a mistake to focus on single years, whether they be cold or hot. Other than that, I have no particular opinion,” said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said.

  • Gary F
    • Jeff

      Ok, I’ll bite. The crux of this argument seems to be there is a conspiracy among scientists and weather observers to raise temperatures. I wonder how they are able to accomplish this? Maybe some underground communication network? Telepathy?

      Oh yeah, and looking at the map from last year (above) there is a whole swath of climate change deniers fudging observations in the Eastern US.

      • Gary F

        Just follow the money.

        http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/09/why-the-hysteria-about-climate-change-follow-the-money.php

        And, my opinion is that its just used as a tool to limit personal freedoms, limit national sovereignty, and wealth redistribution between richer and poorer countries.

        But, you can have your opinion.

        • BJ

          “The models on which it rests are known to be wrong, since they are refuted by observation. ”

          Refuted by what observation? Doesn’t say and doesn’t source.

          • Here’s your elusive Minnesota connection. A St. Thomas professor’s presentation rebuking a good deal of Christopher Monckton’s uhh… work, from which the Powerline post is ripped. http://static.stthomas.edu/jpabraham/

        • Chris

          Do you know how nuts that sounds…nearly all climate scientists are in a conspiracy to limit personal freedoms, limit national sovereignty, and wealth redistribution?

          Meanwhile the coal and gas funded GOP types have such pure motives! Linking to powerline is priceless! Such a bubble you live in.

          • >>Such a bubble you live in.<<

            Rather sad, isn't it?

          • Dave

            You won’t change his mind. There is more vile spewed over the climate change “debate” than practically any other issue, including abortion.

        • David P.

          Just follow the money. It leads straight to an oil well and a coal mine. Take you own advice. Just. Follow. The. Money.

        • Robert Moffitt

          I’m curious to learn who is behind an effort to limit personal freedoms, weaken national sovereignty and promote the redistribution of wealth, and why they might want to use the mantle of climate change to mask this hidden agenda.

          • Jack

            Who? I would Bet the sweet little old lady you see walking down the boulevard wielding a Butterfinger.

    • BJ

      Use any charts that don’t start at 1997 and you have a completely different story – so much debunking has occurred using the 1996-1997 as any kind of starting point in this conversation.

  • BJ

    So that fact is we had a lot of ice where I sit, like several feet, a glacier in fact – 12,000 years ago. Earth has gotten warmer since then. No debate.

    In the last 100 or so years it has been getting warmer faster. Also no debate – deniers exist but no scientists that i have ever seen have debated this.

    Cause of the sped up warming. A little debate, mainly about which of the gasses and where they come from – man made or natural, which have greater effect that kind of thing.

    Solution to the sped up warming. Lots and lots of debate.

    The problems that this warming is causing. Lots, plus lots and lots of debate.

    • Nick K

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303945704579391611041331266

      John Christy is, without a doubt, a scientist who debates that “it has been getting warmer, faster.”
      I would also point out that it has been warmer on this planet relatively recently, in a geological sense. The Norse were farmering in Greenland (until about CE 10000) until global cooling drove them off. (I don’t have a good reference, but you can read Collapse, by Jared Diamond for a full examination of that issue).

  • davehoug

    It is easier to convince folks to pay for adapting (seawalls, moving transformers out of tunnels, reduce flood insurance) than to reduce CO2 in the hope that the rest of the world will join in and also reduce CO2. Even if everybody lived very green the impact will just happen a generation later as world population and living standards increase.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I judge all things going back to 1880 and no earlier. I suppose this makes me the ignorant one. So be it.

    That’s .00000003 percent of the planet’s history, for reference.

    Flame away. It’s Friday.

    • Ben Chorn

      I like to go back to the beginning of Earth and blame those pesky organisms for messing up the atmosphere too. Earth was just fine without oxygen in the atmosphere and bacteria and organisms had to go an mess it all up. That was the original climate change.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Exactly!

    • Chris

      I suppose it is lost on you that we started burning billions of years worth of carbon deposits at an unprecedented rate around 1880 too. The earth will still be here of course, but the question is how habitable it will be for us if we don’t change the course we’re on. That’s a very uncomfortable question for very profitable industries that own the GOP.

      • Nick K

        Actually, the industrial revolution started about 100 years previous to 1880. Scientists only back to 1880 because that is when weather measurements started to be made on a wide scale.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        I’m cool with the course we’re on.

        • Chris

          I take it you do not have children.

        • boB from WA

          That’s a really bad pun…

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Come on dude it’s Friday n

  • Ben Chorn

    You can look up historical temperature data. I’ve done it with Minneapolis and done a 5-year running average to smooth it out more. You can clearly see a warming trend. Even with that people still don’t believe it.

    • Nick K

      Day time or night time averages? Also, was anything done to account for increased urbanization showing a localized heating trend? There are so many things that could skew urban temperature readings that great care must be taken with that data.

  • Gary F

    Think JFK will tell the French this today?

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/16/politics/kerry-climate/

  • Gary F

    Check out the latest poll by Pew Research

    http://www.people-press.org/2015/01/15/publics-policy-priorities-reflect-changing-conditions-at-home-and-abroad/

    Climate change way, way down on the list.

    • And terrorism tops the list…which goes to show that people’s priorities are governed by fear.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        If that were the case climate change would be much higher, since fear is all it’s got going for it.

        “The earth will still be here of course, but the question is how habitable it will be for us if we don’t change the course we’re on.”

        • Jerry

          And science, lots and lots of science.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Cherry-picked science but science none the less, you’re right.

          • Jerry

            How does your statement not describe the tactics of climate change deniers?

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            How about it applies to both.

          • Both as in 97% of scientists…

            Got it.

          • Joe

            But as long as there are scientists on both sides who do not cite the full 100% of existing research in every paper they write, kevinfrom minneapolis think’s it’s even. Doesn’t matter if it is 97% to 3% or 99% to 1% or 99.7% to .3%. Each side will still be cherry picking the data that suits their agenda. Doesn’t matter that the cherry picking from the deniers involves ignoring 99.7% of science or that the .3% the realists are ignoring is crazy ideologues. Both are not citing 100% of all research hence they must be lying.

  • Jerry

    No amount of evidence will convince people when it contradicts their preconceived notions. You can’t see the signs when your eyes are closed.

    • Ralphy

      To flip from a science denier to an acceptor, you have to come to terms with the realization that you were mislead, lied to, by people and information sources you trusted. This means one has to acknowledge an error in judgement. Now pride and ego come into play.

  • KTN

    Of course it wont quell the debate – when you’re dealing with willful ignorance, its hard to have a substantive debate. Be skeptical, its what drives science, but denial has no basis in fact and deserves derision.

    • Jerry

      Skepticism: Is what I’m seeing what I’m actually seeing?

      Denial: I’m not seeing what I’m seeing

  • Duke Powell

    Just read the reactions of several scientists who call NASA and NOAA’s conclusions into question. …not that anyone around here will care.

  • windy2

    This is very interesting and it is nice to see a journalist who seems to actually understand that 2014 was insignificant with respect to the 18+ year warming pause. The two scientists in the article did not sound any alarms or make claims that 2014 meant anything, why? Well likely because the few hundredths of a degree record change in 2014 is an estimate based on a mixture of thermometers, interpolated data and mathematical formulas that result in a record temperature with an error range 5 times greater than the reported record change, which from a scientific perspective is meaningless. Also other temperature data agencies using NASA satellites show no such record warming in 2014, so there is no consensus in the data that 2014 was a record. Also there is still no scientific explanation for the missing heat and the warming pause that remains intact now exceeding 18 years based on NASA satellite data, and scientists still don’t know why their climate models show that it should have warmed twice as much as it has.

    Activists have to be very disappointed as they are attacking scientists for not being alarmist enough. The Washington Post is chock full of activists tied to the Center for American Progress a policy wonk group advocating for President Obama so WaPo is trying to spin this mole hill into a mountain to fight KXL and help the president promote gas tax and other taxes to benefit green initiatives that can’t survive without subsidies.