2016 – Tough Year Shaping up for Deniers
March 2, 2016
The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
– George Orwell
“I’ve always cautioned fellow skeptics that it’s dangerous to claim no warming,” Spencer said in a phone conversation. “There has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been and how does that compare to what’s expected and what’s predicted.” – Roy Spencer in the Washington Post
Above, excerpted remarks from well known “climate skeptic” Pat Michaels, PhD, of the Cato Institute – from his talk at the Heartland Institute’s 2008 climate denial conference.
Heartland is, of course, a well known fossil fuel funded “think” tank. (full remarks here)
In light of recent developments, Michaels remarks have resonance. Worth your minute and a half.
Eric Holthaus in Slate:
Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.
There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month.
Using unofficial data and adjusting for different base-line temperatures, it appears that February 2016 was likely somewhere between 1.15 and 1.4 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and about 0.2 degrees above last month—good enough for the most above-average month ever measured. (Since the globe had already warmed by about +0.45 degrees above pre-industrial levels during the 1981-2010 base-line meteorologists commonly use, that amount has been added to the data released today.)
Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded. That’s stunning.
The data for February is so overwhelming that even prominent climate change skeptics have already embraced the new record. Writing on his blog, former NASA scientist Roy Spencer said that according to satellite records—the dataset of choice by climate skeptics for a variety of reasons—February 2016 featured “whopping” temperature anomalies especially in the Arctic. Spurred by disbelief, Spencer also checked his data with others released today and said the overlap is “about as good as it gets.” Speaking with the Washington Post, Spencer said the February data proves “there has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been.”
The chart below shows the annual average lower troposphere temperature to 2015, with the February anomaly shown as a line at the top.
Figure 1 | Lower troposphere temperature changes from 1979 to 2015. The chart shows the annual average temperature anomaly with the anomaly for February 2016. Data sources: UAH and Roy Spencer’s blog
This next chart is for the month of February only, from February 1979 to February 2016:
Figure 2 | Lower troposphere temperature changes from 1979 to 2015 for February only. Data sources:UAH and Roy Spencer’s blog
Jason Samenow in the Washington Post:
In January, the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s news release on the latest temperature trends implied 2016 has a good chance to pass 1998 as the warmest year in the satellite record. “In addition to a major El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event, 2016 has 17 years of warming to raise the base temperature from which the El Niño begins,” it said.
Spencer said the warming observed in the satellite record is due to both human activities and natural causes, but the relative contributions of each is uncertain. His view on this issue is somewhat different from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which have concluded almost all of the recent warming is human-caused.