The Warmest Years on Record


There are coincidences and then there are correlations. When we discover that 2005 and 2010 are in a dead heat, no pun intended, for warmest year since records began in 1880 do we call this a coincidence or a correlation? And just what is the correlation in question?

The correlation, of course, is between the intensification of climate change and these temperatures. The sceptic doubts not only that these temperatures are meaningful, but also that they are caused by climate change. Sceptics might suggest that the correlation itself is a projection of climate scientists, but whereas the sceptics’ case is certainly possible it remains, all the same, improbable.

It is the improbability that we are living through a meaningless series of record-breaking temperatures year after year that is most striking in the sceptics’ case. The onus is not on green advocates to proof climate change, but on the sceptics to prove, first, that these consistently warm temperatures are meaningless and then, following from this, that these temperatures require no explanation – even when one is staring us in the face.

Neat explanatory correlations are rare in nature, but here we have not one, but many. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies revealed a further startling correlation on January 12th: there was a mere 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit mean difference between 2005 and 2010 temperatures. Combined with the further fact that the list of warmest years outside these two are in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009 and an explanation is in order. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2010 State of the Climate Report has already reached the same conclusion, and it is increasingly unlikely that the general toward elevated warming will shift.

The data was further corroborated by the British Met Office Hadley Centre. Although it is clear that warming is fast becoming the norm this does not explain why it is that warming has become the norm. How did it become the norm?

James Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute, commented that “If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long.” These correlations have given us the gift of a predictive capacity and we would be fools to ignore it.

Read more great articles on Celsias:

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  • Posted on Jan. 20, 2011. Listed in:

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