In what is becoming a regular summer ritual in America, nearly as certain and predictable as 4th of July parades, the New York Times has finally nailed down the proof of anthropogenic global warming. The evidence? Dude… it’s really, really hot outside in the middle of July!
Every 10 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recalculates what it calls climate “normals,” 30-year averages of temperature and precipitation for about 7,500 locations across the United States. The latest numbers, released earlier this month, show that the climate of the last 10 years was about 1.5 degrees warmer than the climate of the 1970s, and the warmest since the first decade of the last century. Temperatures were, on average, 0.5 degrees warmer from 1981 to 2010 than they were from 1971 to 2000, and the average annual temperatures for all of the lower 48 states have gone up.
So rather than looking at patterns over geologic time scales or the past few millenia or even centuries, we’re now going to extrapolate data about the past and future of the planet based on data collected since I was in the Navy? Over at National Review, Denis Boyles is, ummm… skeptical.
Do “climate scientists” measure global warming by looking at ten-year cycles? Maybe, but it makes you wonder about “the first decade of the last century,” when I suppose it must have been really hot. Before things cooled down during that dust-bowl episode and those world-war events and all that napalm we used to warm the mornings of southeast Asia. We’re still not back up to 1910 levels, apparently.
This is going to happen every year so we should just get used to it. While I’ve said this before, it’s worth repeating. I absolutely think the climate of this planet is changing. I think it’s been changing since it first congealed into its current shape. We have some fairly reliable hints that it has, at times, been much, much hotter than it is now. (Particularly when the dinosaurs were stomping around.) And at least once it’s frozen over to the point where life hung on by a thread.
And we interact with the planet’s biosphere so we probably have some effect on it, but how that plays into other factors, including the unpredictable orbit of the planet around the sun make this a vastly complex formula. To date, nobody has convinced me that we’ve developed the capacity to fully model it.
But I will make a deal with you. When you get to the point where you can reliably… let’s say for forty weeks in a row… tell me on Monday whether or not I’ll need an umbrella when I go out to run errands on Friday, maybe we’ll talk about what the weather will be like in 200 years.