Friday, January 16, 2015

Hottest Year Ever

Last October I did a post in which I cited a statement to the effect that in some ways 2014 may turn out to be one of the coolest on record in the U.S. This displeased some readers who wrote to tell me what an idiot I was. Actually, that characterization of their correspondence gives it credit for being more polite than it actually was.

Anyway, at the risk of eliciting more juvenile email from those who have yet to mature to the point where they're able to disagree without employing insult, I note that NASA and NOAA have released a report that claims that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Here's an excerpt from the AP story:
For the third time in a decade, the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced Friday.

Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA calculated that in 2014 the world had its hottest year in 135 years of record-keeping. Earlier, the Japanese weather agency and an independent group out of University of California Berkeley also measured 2014 as the hottest on record.

NOAA said 2014 averaged 58.24 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.24 degrees above the 20th-century average.

But NASA, which calculates temperatures slightly differently, put 2014's average temperature at 58.42 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.22 degrees above their average, which they calculate for 1951-1980.

Earth broke NOAA records set in 2010 and 2005. The last time the Earth set an annual NOAA cold record was in 1911....

Texas A&M University climate scientist Andrew Dessler and other experts said the latest statistics should end claims by non-scientists that warming has stopped.
This sounds pretty dire, and it may be, but it's apparently not the whole story. The report has its critics and, pace professor Dressler, they're not non-scientists.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry, for example, notes that 2014 was only .07 degrees F warmer than the previous highs of 2010 and 2005, an amount which is within the margin of error of the measuring devices, and statistically insignificant. She notes that this means 2014's global average is essentially about what it's been for a decade and that the conclusion to be drawn is that there has been no significant warming throughout that period. In other words, global warming has, if not stopped, at least taken a long hiatus.

Other scientists at the link argue that the static period, or "pause" has been almost two decades long and that the skyrocketing temperatures predicted by some of the same folks cited in the AP story have failed to materialize.

Whether the alarmists are right or the skeptics are right I don't know, but the data do seem to show that the predictions of a global temperature "hockey stick" such as Al Gore prophesied simply haven't been fulfilled. Maybe there's a reason why global temperatures have plateaued over the last decade or so, or maybe the alarmists are simply wrong.

In any case, science is based on accurate predictions. When a theory's predictions fail to come to pass then that theory is in trouble. The question I'd like to ask is how long must the "pause" in warming last before scientists consider the current global warming theory to be falsified? If the theory is essentially immune to falsification, if it's maintained no matter what the global temperatures do, then it's not a scientific hypothesis, it's more like religion.