As the end of 2015 approached, scientists were nearly certain that the year would prove to be the hottest ever recorded. Now the evidence is finally in, and they’ve sadly been proven right.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that last year was at least 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2014 — which held the record of being the hottest year ever recorded for only a year. “A lot of times, you actually look at these numbers, when you break a record, you break it by a few hundredths of a degree,” Thomas Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information at NOAA, told the Washington Post. “But this record, we literally smashed. It was over a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit, and that’s a lot for the global temperature.”
With the continued help of El Niño and ongoing climate change, scientists think 2016 may be on its way to break records, too.
Last year wasn’t only one of record-breaking temperatures — it also featured massive amounts of weird weather, also recognized as a symptom of climate change. There were the unseasonable floods in December, causing problems despite the fact that there hadn’t even been any snowmelt yet. There was the long drought in California. The extreme weather continues into this year. A hurricane formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January for the first time since 1938 earlier this month.
For those who would argue that the rising temperature is only due to El Niño, Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, replied in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, “2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Niño. Last year’s temperature had an assist from El Niño but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”
The first global temperature measurements were recorded in 1880, which means 2015 was hotter than any year recorded since then. If you’re only looking at the continental U.S., 2015 was the second-warmest year ever — 2012 still holds the record.
This data is unlikely to sway those who remain unconvinced that climate change is real or a problem — despite the fact that many countries deem it such a menace that many pledged last year to fight it — especially since the impending blizzard presents a perfect absolutely wrong argument for deniers to deploy. (A few feet of snow lacks the statistical punch to obliterate an entire trend.)
Last February, during a particularly horrid snowstorm, Senator Jim Inhofe threw a snowball on the floor of the Senate. “In case we have forgotten,” he said, “because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, do you know what this is? It’s a snowball, from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out. Very unseasonable.”
This year, it seems possible that he might upgrade to giving a speech against climate change while sledding down Capitol Hill — which is now legal, thanks to Congress — this weekend.