Nevertheless the announcement by NOAA that 2010 was one of if not THE HOTTEST YEAR on EARTH since record keeping has been done makes one pause
from Reutersonline today:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year in the temperature record, adding to the body of scientific evidence that the federal agency has characterized as “clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world.”
Combined global land and ocean annual surface temperatures in 2010 reached 1.12 F (0.62 C) above the 20th century average, the same as surface temperatures in 2005.
An editorial from Mike Thomas Orlando Sentinel columnist on this situation:
Federal scientists reported Wednesday that 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record, unless of course you were in Florida last month, in which case it was one of the coldest Decembers on record.
It's not easy scraping windshield ice with a plastic spatula.
The feds should wait until August to release these how-hot-was-it updates. They might have more impact if people weren't reading them while socked in at O'Hare for 15 hours.
The "deniers,'' as they are called, are having lots of fun with this, juxtaposing claims of record heat with pictures of record snowfalls.
This has put climate scientists and environmentalists on the defensive as they try to explain that there are nuances and variations in things as complex as global weather patterns. In fact, we are told, the heat can be causing the cold.
Some scientists believe that natural weather patterns could override the impact of greenhouse gasses and cool things off for a while.
And I don't deny that could be true.
But for years the message from the climate-change community is that we are on an unrelenting march to hell. Some scientists have made very specific predictions of doom based on models that have nowhere near that kind of accuracy.
And now they are looking pretty silly.
James Hansen, a climatologist and activist at NASA, predicted in 1986 that 2001 would be the hottest year in 100,000 years.
Another leading climate scientist, Michael Oppenheimer, wrote in 1990 that America's heartland would be ravaged in drought, leading to food riots.
English scientist David Viner said in 2000 that winter snow would be a "very rare and exciting event'' and that, "Children just aren't going to know what snow is.''
There have been several predictions about an ice-free North Pole.
The media loves this stuff. In 2000, the Chicago Tribune reported: "The four horsemen of this global Apocalypse are Thaw, Drought, Storms and Floods, carrying in their wake hunger, disease, devastation and death.''
Doomsday scenarios are the marketing plan of choice when it comes to environmental issues.
We saw it play out in a very condensed timeframe with the Gulf oil spill.
The oil would destroy the Gulf. And then it would destroy the Florida Keys, before heading north up the East Coast.
Scientists replaced peer-reviewed research with whatever speculation would get them attention.
And what happened? The underwater oil plumes, such as they were, quickly were gobbled up by bacteria. So was the methane, which we were told could create dead zones. There is no oil coating the Gulf bottom, as was reported. Sea life is booming because of the fishing moratorium.
Interestingly enough, the new story line from some environmentalists and scientists is that it's too early to give the Gulf a clean bill of health. We need to monitor for subtle, long-term impacts.
Crying wolf draws attention to an issue in the short term. But credibility wears thin over time.
Last March, Gallup did its annual poll on the public's attitude toward the environment. It shows almost half of Americans now believe the danger of global warming has been exaggerated, up from 31 percent in 1997 when the question was first asked. People are becoming less convinced it is happening and are less worried about it.
They do not see the world going up in flames.
Of course, the climate-change community can't accept the responsibility for this. So it blames the lies and distortions of the dreaded deniers. I disagree because this issue was theirs to lose. They overreacted to critics, they didn't tolerate dissent and instead of trying to educate the public on the nuances of weather, they turned climate science into a modern-day Book of Revelation.
I don't doubt that having billions of people burning fossil fuel impacts the climate. I question how that impact is being quantified into specific predictions and, more important, how it then is being marketed. It's time for a change in strategy.
Our email reply to Mike Thomas:
Mike-you are a smart gent and can be eerily right(your call on the the real estate debacle was early and correct) but you strike us as having more of a journalism than a science degree. Since we took a lot of science we'll tell you that scientists really are most interested in the data and sadly often leave it to others to write about and broadcast the data.
If the data is so overwhelming in one manner, scientists cannot understand why everyone cannot agree with the data.
Maybe for better or worse most humans in the world are not scientists and must try to make up their mind based on what little science they may have learned. That leads to the usual Fox vs MSNBC interpretation of the data and the discourse of what "the TRUTH" is?
From what we read the FACT is that climatological stations around the world collected data and the data showed a marked increase in both temperature and rainfall. In that the population of one species, the human has grown, more than that of any other species in the world in the last 100 years it seems as if there may be possible causation between what humans do every day and the extremes of the data collected.
But thankfully if the 2012 Mayan calendar is correct we guess it won't really matter.
We wanted to finish with more of the mind of a journalist than that of a scientist.