“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
We’ve heard it time and time again. “Global warming stopped in 1998.” An argument heard frequently from skeptics and deniers is that global warming stopped 14 years ago. Never mind that this claim was debunked long ago. Skeptical Science has done a great job of explaining the fallacy of this oft-quoted argument used against the evidence.
It turns out 2005 was the hottest year on record globally. Americans often forget there’s a whole world out there beyond their own borders, quoting that 1998 was the hottest year for them. However, it’s even easy to refute that one: I’ve posted many times on this blog how as each month passes, the record for the hottest 12-month block in the US has been broken. A year is a year is a year, whether it’s from January to December, or August to July.
To help put the issue this myth to bed, the long-held record from 1998 seems destined to be broken by the year 2012. As the National Climatic Data Center (a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has announced, this January to August is the hottest on record for the contiguous US. According to the Weather Channel, there is only a seven percent chance the record will not be broken.
Climate Central has created a nice chart showing the situation which I include above. For 2012 to not be the hottest year on record for the US, the months of September to December will have to be unusually cold. As it stands, the record is expected to be broken by a whopping 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
For those who like to argue global warming stopped in 1998, this information may sway some of them, but the hardcore deniers will find some way to argue against the evidence. They always do. One thing many of them fail to remember is that global means global, not just the US. Secondly, global means global, not just air and surface temperatures. Much of the thermal energy from global warming has gone into melting ice (e.g. Arctic sea ice, Greenland and glaciers) which won’t lead to a rise in air or surface temperatures because the heat energy is being used to melt ice instead. Also, thermal energy heats up the oceans as well which make up a large part of our planet. Taking all parts of the planet into account, global warming is undeniable.
The deniers use a popular trick common in politics. They take a fallacy like “global warming stopped in 1998″ and they repeat it and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. And then they repeat it again. Sadly, people who hear something often enough are more likely to believe it, regardless of whether it’s true or not. So just like the Republicans criticized Obama for saying “You didn’t build that”—a phrase totally taken out of context and misrepresenting what he was saying but repeated many times at the RNC—the climate change deniers attack the science and the evidence by repeating misinformation over and over and over again.
Sadly, 2012 will help prove them wrong. Again. I wish they were right and global warming wasn’t happening, but as the evidence continues to trump the deniers’ claims, it’s becoming more imperative than ever that we begin to take action on this important issue affecting everyone. Even American deniers.