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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 dwhapham on 1/17/2013 9:01:18 AM , Rating: 3
Yes the evidence tells us that global temperatures are rising and it is very likely that humans activities may be accelerating it. So what? Global temperatures have been rising and falling in cycles for 4.5 billion years. We have only been keeping global temperature records for a little over 100 years so there is no way for any scientists to tell us whether or not what we are experiencing now is abnormal. What people need to realize is that there is no way to stop global warming. All we can do is plan for it and adapt.

By tng on 1/17/2013 10:29:48 AM , Rating: 4
We have only been keeping global temperature records for a little over 100 years so there is no way for any scientists to tell us whether or not what we are experiencing now is abnormal.
While that may be true, most of the people here who are skeptics just really wonder if someone is using it to take advantage...

After all we look at Al Gore who predicts doom and gloom if we don't change our ways, yet seems to be a worse offender than almost anybody, and all the while his personal fortune has grown considerably. Makes it look like he is in it for the money and really does not believe his own message.

Can you blame people for being skeptical? No not really, yet they get labeled and then they are talked about how they are just just not ignorant, but plain stupid by people who buy what the UN says.

By andrewaggb on 1/17/2013 6:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
I enjoy this topic. Not because I have much to add, but because people are worried about it :-)

Even if global warming is 100% human made and will lead to our complete and total destruction... I seriously doubt we'll curb it in time :-). Countries like China are still getting going. They aren't going to stop until they are a first world country, and neither is any other developing country.

People are so cheap and will do anything to save a buck that cleaner choices are often reserved for the minority who can either afford it/want it. World isn't going to change if only a few people make significant changes to their lifestyle.

Personally I'm hoping global warming is a hoax because otherwise I think we're screwed.

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