Friday, May 25, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #58 - Part 2

Global warming: hottest 12 months in US history

Since I just mentioned global warming, some recent global warming news:

The last 12 months - May 2011 through April 2012 - were the hottest 12 months in US history since record-keeping began in 1895. This according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. In fact, all of the ten hottest 12-month stretches have all come in the last 12 years. Now, to be fair and precise, these are not calendar years, they are 12-month periods, so they can overlap. That doesn't change the fact that the ten hottest have all been in the past 12 years.

April was the fifth warmest April on record worldwide; it was the third hottest April in the United States. April’s worldwide average temperature was nearly 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0.7 degrees Celsius, above the 20th Century normal, that is, above the average for April across the entire 20th century.

The last time the globe had a month that averaged below the 20th century normal for that month was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row of above long-term average temperatures. Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than the norm established across the 20th century.

But oh no, we don't need to worry: One commenter, responding to one of the articles that reported this, wrote that we "only need to see past the data to know the world is actually cooling." We only need to be able to see past all the facts. That person was being sarcastic, but the attitude it expressed is quite real: Just last month, Pat Robertson, that well-known climatologist, claimed that global warming is a hoax and people can't possibly be affecting the climate because, after all, there are no SUVs on Mars. Yes, he said that.

The thing is, in recent years, some astronomers have detected a slight warming trend on Mars, and the nanny-nanny naysayers have seized on that bit of trivia to screech their "Fraud!" screeches. The thing is, however, variations in solar output from one decade to another are on the order of a fraction of a percent. On Earth, that's not even enough to provide a detectable signal in the surface temperature record. There is no model of solar radiance that can explain the warming of the past few decades. There is no climate model that can explain that warming without a significant input from human activity. There isn't one.


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