Climate deniers might have just lost one of their favorite misinformation talking points — and that is actually bad news for us all.
Then again, empirical data and observable reality have never really had a hand in shaping those talking points to begin with, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a mea culpa from the denier herd.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just reported that the combined land and ocean surface temperature for April 2010 was 58.1 °F (14.5°C), the hottest ever recorded for the month of April — meaning since about 1880, when such records first started being kept. According to the NOAA, that’s about 1.37°F (0.76°C) above the 20th century average of 56.7°F (13.7°C).
What’s more, the combined land and ocean surface temperature for the year to date — January to April, in other words — was also the highest on record at 56.0°F (13.3°C), which is 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average.
Global warming deniers, of course, love to claim that “There hasn’t been any global warming in the past decade” or even “Global warming is taking a break” to deride the notion that we’re slowly but surely cooking the planet with our out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions. Missing the point of a “global climate” entirely, they’ve even tried to claim that recent unseasonable cold snaps in their local community prove once and for all that there is no global warming.
For the record, the NOAA also reports that Arctic sea ice is below normal for the 11th straight April, and North American snow cover extent was the smallest on record for April. So those cold spells don’t disprove anything — we’re seeing the effects of a warming planet every day. But then I suspect even the deniers know that, and are simply preying on the fact that most folks don’t.
Deniers make the specious claim that global warming has stopped or even reversed over the past decade based on a very simple statistical trick. For instance, 2008 was the coolest year on record since 2000. So, many deniers like to falsely claim, global warming must have ended. “In fact,” they say, “global temperatures have even gone down.” But if you take the long view — and when it comes to the global climate, that’s all that really matters — you can clearly see an upward trend.
In reality, January 2000 to December 2009 was the “warmest decade on record,” according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA.
The Goddard Institute also reported earlier this year that 2009 tied for second warmest year on record, despite the unseasonable temperatures and weather in much of North America. This coupled with the fact that Jan–April 2010 is the hottest Jan–April we’ve ever experienced — again, despite some unseasonable local weather — should drive the final nail through the “Hey, it’s snowing in March! Global warming my ass!” argument once and for all… Though of course I expect it to do no such thing.
Image credit: NOAA