CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS
In its 2014 Users’ Guide, Time magazine notes that this could be the hottest year on record with unusually “weird weather,” particularly if, as some “scientists are predicting,” we see an El Niño. And recent research finds that the planet has been warming faster than we thought and is likely to warm even faster in the future than the climate models have been predicting.
But even though “November was the warmest ever globally, and the provisional data indicates that 2013 is likely to have been the fourth-hottest year on record,” it has been chilly in parts of this country recently. And that is fodder for the flat-earthers, especially their clown prince:
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
If you haven’t heard about the recent plight of the “trapped” climate scientists off the coast of Antarctica, no doubt you wisely ignore the climate denier sites. The Guardian has a good piece on it, featuring five basic facts for climate change skeptics. Skeptical Science nicely explains why we should all be worried that “Antarctic land ice is decreasing” but the fact that “Antarctic sea ice is increasing” isn’t somehow disproof of global warming.
As for current blast of cold weather in parts of the U.S., the Donald isn’t the only denier to take notice. There’s the Congressional anti-science caucus:
"Global warming" isn't so warm these days. http://t.co/gOqr2RiuNJ
— John Fleming (@RepFleming) January 2, 2014
Social media appears to be Fleming’s primary means of spreading misinformation. In 2012 he posted on Facebook, “Global warming, to the the extent that it ever existed, halted 16 years ago. So, what is Washington controlled by the radical environmental agenda? (sic)”
It was never clear how warming could have halted 16 years ago if the 2000s were the warmest decade on record — with 2010 the hottest year on record globally — and steady increases in deep ocean warming. But the disinformers have never let actual information get in the way of their message.
The Drudge Report also jumped on the recent U.S. cold snap with the sarcastic headline “‘Global Warming’ Intensifies.” Their roundup of recent news items failed to mention the record-breaking heat wave that has enveloped Australia for the past several weeks or the unprecedented heat that has killed seven people in Argentina in the past week.
In any case, as Climate Progress reported last month, we now know that most of the faux pause was due, ironically enough, to “the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic,” where it it is warming the fastest, as RealClimate explained:
If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared.
No wonder Politifact Texas rates the claim, “The Earth is not warming,” as “PANTS ON FIRE — The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.”
Nothing can stop the deniers from spreading disinformation, but if Time magazine is right, then 2014 will become the hottest year on record, so reality may slowly set in.
El Niños occur when parts of the equatorial Pacific ocean become unusually warm. Adding an El Niño to the underlying global warming trend makes for record global warmth and record-smashing extreme weather. Indeed, it was the then-record temperatures from a super El Niño in 1998 that helped make it seem like warming slowed in the past 16 years. As Time explains:
The three warmest years on record, 1998, 2005 and 2010, were all El Niño years. In fact, 2013 was unusual because it was so hot despite the fact that there was no El Niño–a sign of just how much global warming has increased. Should the southern Pacific heat up enough for climatologists to declare an El Niño in effect — and that requires three months of ocean temperatures that are at least 0.9°F [0.5°C] higher than average — expect 2014 to be a record breaker on many fronts.
I haven’t seen any official predictions that 2014 will be an El Niño, probably because it is a bit on the early side for reliable predictions. Some forecasts put the chances at about 45 percent, but the Climate Forecast System (CFS) from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction appears to be projecting an El Niño:
Time will tell.