While Republican debaters seek ways to wipe off the stink of their global-warming denier labels and Republicans in Congress, state legislatures and the governors' mansions seek ways to undermine the Obama administration's modest but essential efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions, the tabulators of global warming stand aghast at what's happening far faster than most climate scientists expected.
One of the watchers is Joe Romm:
Like a broken record, we are breaking records for temperature over and over and over again. NOAA’s latest monthly State of the Climate Report reports that the Earth just experienced the hottest August on record, the hottest summer (June to August) on record, and the hottest year to date.
And it wasn’t even close. Each of those records was broken by 0.18°F (or more). So, yes, 2015 is going to be the hottest year on record — by far. Last month, climate scientist Jessica Blunden, who works with NOAA, said it’s “99 percent certain that it’s going to be the warmest year on record.” That is crystal clear from this NOAA chart:
Year-to-date temperature anomalies for 2015 (black line) to the six warmest years on record: 2014, 2010, 2013, 2005, 2009, and 1998 (via NOAA). Each month along each trace represents the year-to-date average temperature: The January value is the January anomaly (departure from the 20th century average temperature), the February value is the average of both January and February, and so on.
There's more beneath the fold.
Romm points out a new study that shows, deniers' claims to the contrary, there never was a slowdown, a pause, a hiatus in the warm-up:
The study, titled "Debunking the climate hiatus" and published online this week in the journal Climatic Change, is a comprehensive assessment of the purported slowdown, or hiatus, of global warming. [...]
"Our results clearly show that, in terms of the statistics of the long-term global temperature data, there never was a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown in global warming," said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and a co-author of the study.[...]
"Global warming is like other noisy systems that fluctuate wildly but still follow a trend," Diffenbaugh said. "Think of the U.S. stock market: There have been bull markets and bear markets, but overall it has grown a lot over the past century. What is clear from analyzing the long-term data in a rigorous statistical framework is that, even though climate varies from year to year and decade to decade, global temperature has increased in the long term, and the recent period does not stand out as being abnormal."
Reports that last year was the hottest on record, this year is likely to surpass that record and next year is likely to be hotter still generates the kind of knowledge that leads some people to despair. Combining the heat reports with news about accelerating melting in the Antarctic, stalling oceanic currents, bigger swarms of Arctic mosquitoes, starving polar bears and hints there will be soon be climate-forced migration of hundreds of millions of people can turn the despair into desperation. And that can lead to paralysis or an attitude of eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we fry.
The antidote for this is stepped-up activism dedicated to abandoning the fossil-fuel economy and speeding up the transformation of our energy system and the economic ideology that underpins it.
This will take greater resolve at every level of government and commerce. The climate-change deniers and their cousins, the climate-policy delayers, are not going to take action on their own. And they aren't going to get the hell out of the way of those who are taking action unless we force the issue. As abolitionist Frederick Douglass would surely say if he were still with us, getting change requires making demands of those in power and replacing those who continue to resist and equivocate. Achieving that will take a relentless effort, both in electoral and street politics.