Stop me if you’ve heard this before…
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a press release issued today:
During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C). This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015. Since 1997, which at the time was the warmest year on record, 16 of the subsequent 18 years have been warmer than that year.
The animated gif below shows how the 2015 annual average surface temperature compared to the 1981-2010 average, and then cycles through the monthly maps for January-December 2015.
In the United States, the year was the second-warmest on record, culminating in a December that was both the hottest and the wettest since record-keeping began. According to the New York Times, one result has been a wave of unusual winter floods coursing down the Mississippi River watershed.
“The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
Climate change and presidential politics
The issue of global warming has taken on increasing importance in this presidential election year, since the candidates hold widely divergent positions on whether warming actually exists, and, if it does, what humans should do about it.
Candidates who deny climate change exists rely on an argument that says climate change has “paused” after the the last powerful El Niño, in 1998. This is demonstrably false. “Is there any evidence for a pause in the long-term global warming rate?” said Gavin A. Schmidt, head of NASA’s climate-science unit, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Manhattan. “The answer is no. That was true before last year, but it’s much more obvious now.”
It is particularly disturbing when a leading candidate for the nomination from a major party like Ted Cruz can say with a straight face that “climate change is not science, it’s religion”:
The science is clear, and becomes clearer with each passing month. Those of us with a vote should make sure that the next president understands the science, and is ready to take action. (Read: “Comparing the 2016 presidential candidates on climate change.“)