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James Hansen puts an interesting spin on reports of the ninth warmest year on record

2012 was a kind of glass-half full, glass half-empty year in terms of global temperature.  

I. Climate Chief: Don't Worry, We're Still Doomed

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) in-depth analysis of satellite and other forms of climate data ruled the year was the ninth warmest on record.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) independent analysis of ground and sea-based climate stations reported that the year was the tenth warmest on record.

The NASA report states that the average global temperature was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 Celsius), which is 1.0 F (0.6 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline, or 1.4 F (0.6 C) warmer than the earliest comprehensive observations from the 1880s.

Still, the year marks the fifth year of a relative flatline in global temperatures after a decade in which the record was regularly broken.

Global warming proponents like James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, blame this deviation from their "doomsday" calculations on a specialized cooling phenomenon called "La Nina", which lowers temperatures in the Eastern Pacific.

Surface temperatures
Despite flat-lining surface temperatures over the last five years, some climate researchers insist we're headed to doomsday warming and should keep our fingers on the panic button.
[Image Source: GISS]

The climate official claims that aerosols, which reflect solar radiation, also had a cooling affect on temperatures.

Mr. Hansen argues that the public shouldn't just look at the numbers, but look at more nebulous and abstract observations, which he sees as supporting his beliefs of runaway warming.  He writes, "The observant person who is willing to look at the past over several seasons and several years, should notice that the frequency of unusual warm anomalies has increased and the extreme anomalies."

He and other global warming advocates have pointed to the summer's drought in central North America and high temperatures in the Rocky Mountains as such "extreme anomalies".  

II. A Hot Year for the U.S., Arctic, but a Cool One Elsewhere

2012, according to a separate NOAA report, was the hottest year on record for the U.S. The year did mark a new low for summer Arctic sea ice, according to NASA.  However, that could bring some benefits for mankind, such as opening up oil resources.

NOAA map
Parts of the globe cooled, others warmed in 2012. [Image Source: NOAA]

And temperatures for the year were actually cooler than average in several regions -- Alaska, far western Canada, central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific and parts of the Southern Ocean.

California meteorologist Anthony Watts, a known critic of doomsday predictions from folks like James Hansen, casts the U.S.'s record year in a different light, commenting, "If anything, U.S. temperatures are warming at a slower rate in recent decades compared to the early warming period, even with all of that lovely warm weather last year."

He points out that the recent increase (1980-2012) in U.S. surface temperatures was dwarfed by a sharp rise between 1919-1934, which was followed by a period of cooling.

In a follow-up piece, he argues the overall flatline may indicate that natural forces (including in a cooling direction) have a greater impact on global temperatures than human ones, based on his independent analysis over the last half decade.

Sources: NASA, NOAA, Jame Hansen [note]

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By FaaR on 1/16/2013 10:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
You know, statistics and modelling is its own form of science, which is pretty well understood. You would not be so easily confuddled and duped by liars in the denialist camp if you had some understanding of these matters.

All your questions could easily be explained if you were just willing to listen to people who have actual knowledge in this field.

You don't doubt quantum mechanics physicists for example, do you? So why all the skepticism regarding climate research? I mean, what's the fing worst thing that could happen by switching over to sustainable energy, that our air, soil and water gets cleaner? Jesus, the stupidity!

...I don't get it. You sound like a very irrational person who don't understand what's best for your own good. If nothing else can convince you, consider that fossile fuels will cease to be viable as an energy source due to scarcity and price increases. Soon. Like, within the next 100 years, and probably a lot less. The quicker we switch our energy economy over to something else, the longer we will have the minority of oil reserves remaining available for more productive uses than burning it in inefficient engines.

By nocturne on 1/17/2013 1:47:46 AM , Rating: 2
A word of sense, for once.. It always amazes me how those who claim to be educated technology professionals can be so incredibly shortsighted and resistant to any contrary beliefs.

If the DT readership decided this last election, we'd have Ron Paul for president right now.. xD

Now he's an honest person, relieving for a politician, but seriously -- the guy is an idiot. I could imagine why he got out of his medical practice to try politics, lol.

So, you don't have the slightest idea of how an economy works.. so let's go back to the gold standard, tank our economy just so it's easy enough for you to understand!

By Labotomizer on 1/17/2013 9:15:17 AM , Rating: 2
Statistics and modeling has a place. But they are NOT set in stone. Why is questioning the legitimacy of scientific research suddenly frowned upon? That's actually the point, scientific research is supposed to be doubted and questioned. Perhaps if you had some understanding of scientific process you would understand this.

And yes, I doubt quantum physicists because they are CONSTANTLY wrong. As are the vast majority of scientific theories. It's how we advance. By questioning what the person before them did. It's the entire point!

As for developing sustainable energy, not once have I seen an argument against that. We should absolutely look into better means of harnessing electricity, just not for the reason of mankind's ego. Which is exactly what AGW is, mankind is so full of itself that most can't accept the fact that changes on a global scale could be anything but our own fault. The other problem is that the alternative methods aren't far enough along to be worth the huge cost in development, unless we talk nuclear power but everyone seems to fear that as well. I'm not saying solar, wind and wave power doesn't have its place, even today, but it's not at a point where it could sustain the population. We should build out a Natural Gas infrastructure, as it would be a huge improvement over what we have now, and it would last us 50 years easily as science progresses and better energy alternatives are created. Why is that so hard for YOU to understand?

It's not unreasonable to think we'll be at a point in 50 years where concrete can convert heat to energy. Imagine what a breakthrough that would be. If suddenly all pavement and the outside of building were capable of using energy from the sun. Not only that but the friction of tires on the pavement would generate additional energy. But no, let's waste ridiculous amounts of money on solutions that can't fully sustain us today in favor of building out a viable alternative, that would generate more jobs, bring money back into the US instead of over seas and reduce emissions substantially. That's just crazy talk, right?

By drycrust3 on 1/17/2013 7:35:53 PM , Rating: 2
Why is questioning the legitimacy of scientific research suddenly frowned upon?

Correct! You should question it.
In fact, one of the big failings of the Global Warming lobby is the fact that the University of East Anglia's Climate Research unit got caught rigging the peer review system, and they got caught adjusting their raw data so it matched their theories (which also makes anyones' research based upon that data suspect), and then, to make matters worse, when they were found out about this they couldn't figure out what they had done wrong.

By Nutzo on 1/17/2013 11:18:48 AM , Rating: 2
I mean, what's the fing worst thing that could happen by switching over to sustainable energy, that our air, soil and water gets cleaner? Jesus, the stupidity!

How about doubling or tripling the cost of your electric bill, increasing the cost of you next car, or wasting taxpayers money on another failed company (after the CEO's get thier $$$ bonuses).

If the earth is warming due to man, then explain the midevil warming period. That's when the Vikings settled & farmed Greenland, and grew grapes in New England and eastern Canada. Something that is impossible today due to the much colder climate.

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