Separate analyses conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirm that 2014 will go down as the warmest year on modern record. Earlier in January, the Japan Meteorological Association also determined that 2014 was the warmest year globally, since they begin taking readings in 1891.
In a joint press release, on January 16, 2015, NOAA and NASA scientists reported that 2014 was the warmest year on earth for surface and ocean temperatures, since at least 1880. 2014 also marks the 38th consecutive year where global temperatures exceeded the 20th-century average. The ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
While global readings were unusually warm in 2014, the Central and Eastern United States had cooler than normal weather. This of course, helped fuel skepticism in the American Midwest, where denialists don’t appear to grasp the distinction between local winter weather and global climate change. The Western United States by contrast had well above normal temperatures. Alaska, California, Arizona, and Nevada had their warmest years on record. Warmer temperatures might not cause immediate alarm in Fairbanks, but folks living in Phoenix or Yuma could probably do without hotter readings in the summer months.
The record heat in 2014 should be of additional concern, because unlike previous record-setting years in 1998, 2005, and 2010, last year was not an El Nino year. According to Gavin Schmidt, Director of NASA’s Goodard Institute for Space Studies, “this is the first year since 1997 that the record warmest year was not an El Nino year at the beginning of the year, because the last three have been.”
Climate change denialists will continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that the planet is getting warmer. They will argue that all of the “climate change hype” is politically motivated, the data be damned. However, it is the Republican politicians, the fossil fuel interests, and conservative ideologues, who resist the truth, not the scientists at NASA or NOAA. There is no conspiracy of thermometers giving false readings across the globe to dupe us into believing the earth is getting warmer.
The thermometers, not the denialists, are correct. The planet is getting warmer, whether we believe it is or not. Recognizing the reality of human-caused global warming, and taking steps to address it, may be one of the most important challenges for humans to face in the 21st century. NOAA and NASA have given us the necessary data to inspire action. We can choose to bury our heads in the sand and do nothing, or we can take their report and find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. The latter path makes more sense.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.