January 16, 2015

1998 now No. 4 on list of hottest years on record

The climate change denialists all like to say some version of "But, 1998 was the hottest year on record."

First, that hasn't been true in a decade.

First, 2005 passed it, in modern records.

Then, 2010 passed 2005.

And now, 2014 has taken the crown.

There’s also this added measure of concern about last year’s record setting:
With the continued heating of the atmosphere and the surface of the ocean, 1998 is now being surpassed every four or five years, with 2014 being the first time that has happened in a year featuring no real El Niño pattern. Gavin A. Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, said the next time a strong El Niño occurs, it is likely to blow away all temperature records.
And, that is a concern.

On Twitter, I said, “Cue the climate change denialists in 3, 2, 1.”

Well, per the story, they’ve already cued themselves, basically reshaping the “1998 was the hottest” claim:
John R. Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who is known for his skepticism about the seriousness of global warming, pointed out in an interview that 2014 had surpassed the other record-warm years by only a few hundredths of a degree, well within the error margin of global temperature measurements. 
“Since the end of the 20th century, the temperature hasn’t done much,” Dr. Christy said. “It’s on this kind of warmish plateau.”
Well, there’s some Grade A bull.

Per an essay by philosopher Massimo Pigliucci about thevarieties of denialism, this isn’t a surprising head fake, though.

Peak Oil denialists point to our current “beta peak” on US oil production to claim that King Hubbert was wrong about peak oil. And, our passing Saudi Arabia for any extended period of time isn't likely.

First, that beta peak is still several percentage points short of the original 1970 peak.

Second, several oil shale fields were set to peak themselves in 2016; the current supply glut probably pushed that back a year, maybe two.

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