Difference in degrees farenheit compared to the 20th-century average:
Rank Year Difference (°F) from average 1 (tie) 2005 1.12 1 (tie) 2010 1.12 3 1998 1.08 4 (tie) 2003 1.04 4 (tie) 2002 1.04 6 (tie) 2006 1.01 6 (tie) 2009 1.01 8 2007 0.99 9 2004 0.97 10 2001 0.94 11 (tie) 2008 0.86 11 (tie) 1997 0.86 13 1999 0.76 14 1995 0.74 15 2000 0.7
Source: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center
There is no question that the Earth is warming, especially in the Arctic. But many Americans refuse to accept that the warming is anthropogenic—it is caused by human activities (mostly burning fossil fuels) that release greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) into the atmosphere. The science is as clear about this as science ever gets. Multiple lines of evidence point to human activities as the culprit. It is getting to the point where there is nearly an equal probability that these two hypotheses will be overturned—
- gravity as a fundamental force in the Universe, as opposed to some other explanation for why apples fall
- anthropogenic warming, as opposed to some undetected natural variability in the Earth's climate
And yet, Americans continue to believe in the Tooth Fairy. When the Wall Street Journal noted the record warming in 2010, here is how "journalist" Gauam Naik reported it—
The latest findings were seen by some as further evidence of a link between human activities and global warming.
"In my mind, it reinforces the notion that we're seeing a signal from increasing greenhouse-gas emissions," said David Easterling, a NOAA researcher. "If that weren't a fact, we'd see temperatures tapering off and cooling, but we're not seeing that."
Not all scientists agreed. John Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said natural long-term variability in climate, rather than greenhouse-gas emissions, could play a greater role in warming.
In addition, Dr. Christy said, "If greenhouse gases are causing warming, the climate system is not very sensitive to carbon dioxide because the warming is not very dramatic."
Dr. Christy helped develop a global temperature data set based on satellite measurements going back to 1979. His approach indicates that 1998 was the warmest year.
Dr. Christy noted that despite disagreement about how fast the earth is warming, most scientists agree global temperatures are, indeed, rising...
In July, an international study by 300 scientists concluded that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and that the past decade was the warmest on record.
Those conclusions broadly matched the findings of the most recent report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007.
The Wall Street Journal devoted more space to John Christy than to anything else! But John Christy is not an honest man or he's a lousy scientist, or both. And being a devout Christian, he has an axe to grind, at least the way he seems to have figured things out—there is no natural antipathy between religious belief and doing science. If you would like to know why Christy is not a reliable scientific source, read (and follow the links in) Joe Romm's post Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?
During "Climategate" at the end of 2009, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Christy and NASA GISS researcher Gavin Schmidt (video below) as if they were both experts on climate science, as if they were equally competent to talk about the causes of global warming. On his side, Schmidt had his own climate modeling work, and decades of research by thousands of other scientists working independently all over the world. On his side, Christy had cooked satellite data and Jesus on the Cross.
Tragically, an uninformed layman watching this interview has no way of knowing which of these scientists knows what he is talking about, and which is a biased headcase whose chief talent lies in leading Bible Study groups. And remember, the scientific method is self-correcting. Bad science does not survive for long, especially with a hot-button issue like climate.
Here in America, we are entering a Dark Age, the antithesis of the Enlightment. It will be an Age of Ignorance in which mean or stupid or crazy people reign supreme. One of the first things to go will be any science which inconveniences our unquestioned faith in the possibility of unlimited economic growth, or any science which threatens those with large, entrenched economic interests in the status quo.
The 21st century presents a number of tests for humanity. Will we stem the massive problems attending our attempts to exploit this planet without limit? Will we realize the inherent impossibility of this project? Or will Homo sapiens commit suicide, or destroy its best achievements, as it seems to be doing? In short, are we going to clean up our sorry act?
At least in the United States, the ascendancy of the blissfully ignorant guarantees that humankind will fail the tests of the 21st century. That is our track record so far, and there isn't any reason to believe that some miraculous change in our behavior is coming. The possibility for wisdom and maturity in our species will be gone.
And so by the end of this century, the Earth's climate, oceans, inventory of species, and the rest will in no way resemble what existed during the Holocene—the last 10,000 years—the time which nurtured the birth of agriculture, metallurgy and the long, long climb to where we stand today. So many human beings can not bring themselves to tell their children and grandchildren this:
- The Earth started warming in the late 20th century.
- The science clearly showed that we were causing it.
- We were unwilling to even try to do anything about it—we went into denial instead.
- Sorry about that! Good luck.
And if you doubt this total lack of concern for future generations, consider the public debt burden we have bequeathed to them here in the United States. Or consider the overfishing of the oceans, which virtually guarantees that by 2050 few alive then will ever know what it was like to taste tuna fish or eat a natural shrimp. And so on.
Ultimately, this lack of concern for future generations is rationalized by the absurd belief that human populations and economies will grow and grow without limit. I know what depth psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, or insightful writers like Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, would have called this self-destructive delusion—not to mention many paleontologists, ecosystem scientists and evolutionary biologists. I call it the same thing—a pathology or maladaption on a grand scale which clearly points to an "advanced" primate species without much of a future.
As you watch this video, remember what I told you here.