2016: Our Hottest Year on Record

It’s official: 2016 was the hottest year on record. And it trounced the previous record held by—you guessed it—2015. Prior to that you had to go all the way back to 2014 for the year that held the record.

In the nearly 140 years of accurately kept temperature records, there has never been a three-year run of record-breaking like we’ve just experienced. It has some climate scientists worried because it’s possible reality will be worse than predicted. In fact, climatologists have been anticipating this kind of change in global temperatures for some time although not necessarily this soon. One 2015 study concluded that we could possibly witness Arctic warming rise by an alarming one degree Fahrenheit each decade starting by the 2020s.

Only extremely aggressive reductions in carbon emissions can offer many coastal cities at risk for the flooding tragedies that will most surely come in mere decades if things don’t change. (Lost property will only be the tip of the iceberg: a global economic crisis and millions of climate refugees will be problems we will all have to deal with.)

Global Warming is Getting Harder to Deny

“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.”
—Bill Watterson

Whenever I have discussions with people about climate change—often in the context of lectures I give for Climate Reality Canada—I invariably run into a few people who deny that global warming even exists, although admittedly they are diminishing in number. Most deniers seemed to have moved past that point realizing it’s a losing argument, instead admitting now that although it’s happening, they’re still happy to deny that our activities aren’t a significant factor in contributing to it.

But for those few still clinging to that belief that our planet isn’t warming, it’s been getting extremely difficult to hold onto their stand these last couple of years. They usually hold onto the fallacy that there’s been “no global warming since 1998.” That’s a common claim thanks to a particularly hot El Niño that year. Keep in mind that there is an overall warming trend, but El Niños can increase global temperatures beyond that trend.

Global warming deniers were barely able to hold onto their claim until the last few years when 1998’s record was blown out of the water: 2014 became the hottest calendar year ever recorded. Until 2015 beat it, that is. And 2016 is extremely likely to beat that, given that every month this year is breaking the record as the hottest of that particular month ever recorded globally.

The surface temperatures have been pretty telling but some people like Ted Cruz have tried to argue that surface temperature recordings aren’t reliable enough, but that when one looks to satellite data, there’s clearly no evidence of any global warming.

Except that satellite data do show such evidence. In fact, just earlier this year Drs. Roy Spencer and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville reported that satellite data shows a “Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978 [of] +0.12 C [0.22F] per decade.” All temperatures, the highs and the lows, are on the rise. In fact, no matter how you look at it—satellites, ground-based weather stations, sea-based buoys, or weather balloons—all data available to us now reveals a consistent long-term warming trend for our planet.

And as if to hammer the point home even further, last month achieved a new record of its own: we just experienced the hottest consecutive 12-month average (from September 2015 to August 2016) ever recorded, beating the record set during the last super El Niño.

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once stated:

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Seems silly to have to point out the obvious like that, but the simple fact is that lies that global warming isn’t real are too often repeated, particularly by politicians, the right-wing media who support them, and the lobbyists who get supported by them. They all have one thing in common, and it’s not a desire for the truth. They’re against any action to  do something about it, usually to preserve their profits, ideologies, or both.

The time to act is now. The sooner we can get past these lies, the better.

Finland: The Heat is On

“Like the canary in the coal mine, the climate changes already evident in the Arctic are a call to action.”
Susan Collins

Global warming affects the North Pole more than it does the equator. That’s an established fact, usually attributed to the fact that the Arctic ice cap is shrinking so the darker water absorbs more energy from sunlight than the ice which is much more reflective, the so-called ice-albedo feedback, amplifying the entire process.

So it should be no surprise that a country located close to the North Pole such as Finland is warming faster than other nations around the world. How much faster? Last week meteorologists reported that Finland has experienced global warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last 166 years of records. Since 1847, the Finnish Meterological Institute reports: Continue reading

Global Warming or Climate Change: Which Is It?

In the latest attempt to spin doubt about the science, many skeptics and deniers are trying to argue that we’ve stopped using the term “global warming” and started using the term “climate change” in its place. Why would we do that? Well, because the world stopped warming more than a decade ago, or so the skeptics and deniers would have you believe.

Interestingly, as this video helps point out, Republican strategist Frank Luntz put out a memo ten years ago to the Bush administration and other conservatives recommending they use the term “climate change” because “global warming” sounded too scary. It’s easier to get people to be complacent about it if it doesn’t sounds as threatening.

For those who don’t understand the differences between those terms, I’ll try to clarify it. Greenhouse gases are the main culprit for the global warming our planet has experienced over the last century. Global warming manifests in many ways such as melting glaciers and ice caps, greater floods and droughts, more extreme weather events such as hurricanes, and sea level rise.

In other words, one of the many consequences of global warming is climate change. Increased emissions lead to global warming which leads to climate change. It’s as simple as that. It has nothing to do with trying to put a different spin on it.

Unless you’re a skeptic or denier who will try to argue the point. Just like you were advised to do a decade ago.