Ignore absurd claims that scientists manipulated temperature records
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO —Global warming denier reaction to last week’s announcement that 2012 was the hottest year on record was predictable, but disheartening nonetheless. In case you missed the news, the National Climatic Data Center said 2012 beat the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree, which is like Usain Bolt winning the 100 Meter dash by three seconds.
The announcement came after a careful vetting of readings gathered by thousands of thermometers, day by day, month by month, across the country. Along with the annual average record-high temperature, there’s more proof the Earth is heating up: The U.S. tallied 34,008 daily high temperature records set or tied for the year, compared to just 6,664 daily record lows.
But within a few hours of the announcement, the usual gang of climate-science deniers were up to their usual obfuscations, claiming once again that NOAA is leading a vast global scientific conspiracy to manipulate temperature records, mislead people and crash the world economy into a post-carbon apocalypse.
I’m not going to name any names or provide links to the websites of these folks, simply because they don’t deserve any more publicity or the respect of serious journalists. Frankly, they’re a tiny fringe group of loud and foul-mouthed deceivers who mix up climate science with politics and have no qualms about attacking the personal integrity of thousands of dedicated public servants who certainly didn’t get into climate science for the fame or money.
Their arguments border on the ridiculous, for example claiming the NOAA scientists deliberately manipulated the temperatures for this and other other years to make it look like 2012 is the hottest year on record.
For what? What could anyone possibly gain from lying about something like that? The claim that government scientists have a hidden agenda rings hollow at first glance and becomes more ludicrous the deeper you look.
The problem with all this is, of course, that it distracts from the urgent need to address global warming at all levels. And I think that’s the real aim of the deniers. It’s hard to focus on your real problems when you’re constantly trying to swat away pesky gnats.
Don’t let yourself be distracted. Each passing month makes it more and more clear that if we don’t get a grip on greenhouse gas emissions, we are very literally digging our own graves, or at least those of future generations.
Along with record temperatures, the past year was filled with numerous reports of how it’s becoming more difficult to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, a commonly accepted goal that might just stave off the worst of the impacts.
More studies are showing that we’ve likely underestimated the rate at which polar ice caps will melt, and that sea levels will probably rise faster and higher than the estimates by the IPCC.
If we want to have any chance of averting the worst of what’s to come, then 2013 needs to be the year that we get serious about climate change, and that means making sure that the climate change deniers are called out being the charlatans that they are.