2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, say both NASA and NOAA
Experts say global warming is no longer some future worry. It's already here.
- President Trump and other politicians have routinely dismissed climate change as a hoax.
- Data from NASA and NOAA show 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record.
- Collectively, the last five years have represented the hottest in the 139-year record.
At a time when a majority of Americans worry over climate change, politicians and the fossil-fuel industry continue to drag their feet over regulating human-made greenhouse gases. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released last November, warned that unrestrained climate change would devastate the economy and threaten American safety. President Donald Trump's response? "I don't believe it."
He went on to tell reporters, "So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important." Of course, he meant clean air and water for the American people, not just himself. Right, Mr. President? So… tacit agreement, then?
Regardless of President Trump's dismissal, reality, to paraphrase Philip K. Dick, doesn't go away because you stop believing in it. Just ask researchers at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A hot take on 2018
The map shows global surface temperatures for 2014-2018. Higher than normal temperatures are in red, lower than normal in blue.
NASA and NOAA released statements this month calling 2018 the fourth warmest year on record. Both organizations' data suggests that the average global temperature last year was roughly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average. Globally, the land-surface temperature rose 2.02 degrees higher than average, while the sea-surface temperature was 1.19 degrees higher.
Not only was 2018 the fourth hottest, it added yet another year to global warming's trending tradition. Collectively, the past five years were the warmest in the record's 139-year history (2016 was the hottest ever). And 2018 was the 42nd year in a row sporting an above-average temperature, a streak that began in 1977.
"We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future," Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the New York Times. "It's here. It's now."
Scientists have long warned that climate change will incur heavy costs on lives and economies the world over — costs we're already paying.
Regarding weather and climate disasters, 2018 proved the fourth costliest year for the U.S. since 1980 (when records began). Fourteen inclement weather events amassed an economic toll of $91 billion, with Hurricane Michael's $25 billion bill expending the most. These disasters also took at least 247 lives and grievously injured many more.
An April anomaly?
Some may argue that blizzards and deep freezes disprove global warming and climate change, but to do so is to confuse the weather with the climate. Photo credit: Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Weather aficionados may remember another tidbit weather news: April of last year was the United State's coldest in 20 years. It's true. April 2018 was particularly chilled, thanks to an Arctic air engulfing many central and eastern states. Because of this and other factors, for the contiguous United States, 2018 would only be the 14th warmest year.
But climate change is a global problem. While the United States had an overall wet year, Australia continues to suffer horrible drought and rainfall deficiencies. Other countries that set record land temperatures include Russia, much of Europe, and parts of the Middle East.
As such, pointing to April's record lows to disregard global warming is to confuse today's weather with climate change. As the website Skeptical Science points out, "Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long-term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change."
While April was a chaotic month of blizzards for much of the United States, overall and across the world, climate change models for 2018 proved accurate.
Science versus smoke screens
This map shows the 14 weather disasters that struck the U.S. last year. Their total cost amounted to $91 billion, and they took at least 247 lives.
How certain are scientists that humans are responsible for climate change? As certain as they are that cigarettes cause lung disease. That is, extremely certain.
According to an American Association for the Advancement of Science 2014 report, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is human caused. As stated in that report:
"The science linking human activities to climate change is analogous to the science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases. Physicians, cardiovascular scientists, public health experts, and others all agree smoking causes cancer. And this consensus among the health community has convinced most Americans that the health risks from smoking are real. A similar consensus now exists among climate scientists, a consensus that maintains that climate change is happening and that human activity is the cause."
Yet, like the tobacco industry before, climate deniers continue to campaign hard against this scientific reality. The government continues to place people like oil lobbyist and climate denier Jim Inhofe in important environmental positions. Think tanks put out reports downplaying climate change, while "consistently conceal[ing] their sources of funding and final interest," as one study found. The fossil fuel industry has engaged in a decades-long disinformation campaign to gaslight the American people and will likely increase fossil fuel production.
"In short, [they] have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-mind focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted," wrote U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia.
Judge Kessler wasn't writing about climate change, politicians, or fossil fuel companies. This quote comes from a 1,652-page opinion about tobacco companies' attempts to silence the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer and dissuade the public from the findings.
One wonders if the future holds a similar statement aimed at today's leaders, policymakers, and heads of industry.
Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.
- The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
- The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
- Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
Younger Americans support expanding the Supreme Court and serious political reforms, says new poll.
- Americans under 40 largely favor major political reforms, finds a new survey.
- The poll revealed that most would want to expand the Supreme Court, impose terms limits, and make it easier to vote.
- Millennials are more liberal and reform-centered than Generation Z.
A 2020 study published in the journal of Psychological Science explores the idea that fake news can actually help you remember real facts better.
- In 2019, researchers at Stanford Engineering analyzed the spread of fake news as if it were a strain of Ebola. They adapted a model for understanding diseases that can infect a person more than once to better understand how fake news spreads and gains traction.
- A new study published in 2020 explores the idea that fake news can actually help you remember real facts better.
- "These findings demonstrate one situation in which misinformation reminders can diminish the negative effects of fake-news exposure in the short term," researchers on the project explained.
Previous studies on misinformation have already paved the way to a better understanding<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU1NzQ4NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjE2Mjg1Nn0.hs_xHktN1KXUDVoWpHIVBI2sMJy6aRK6tvBVFkqmYjk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C800%2C0%2C823&height=700" id="fc135" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="246bb1920c0f40ccb15e123914de1ab1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="fake news concept of misinformation and fake news in the media" />
How does misinformation spread?
Credit: Visual Generation on Shutterstock<p><strong>What is the "continued-influence" effect?</strong></p><p>A challenge in using corrections effectively is that repeating the misinformation can have negative consequences. Research on this effect (referred to as "continued-influence") has shown that information presented as factual that is later deemed false can still contaminate memory and reasoning. The persistence of the continued-influence effect has led researchers to generally recommend avoiding repeating misinformation. </p><p>"Repetition increases familiarity and believability of misinformation," <a href="https://engineering.stanford.edu/magazine/article/how-fake-news-spreads-real-virus" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the study explains</a>.</p><p><strong>What is the "familiarity-backfire" effect?</strong></p><p>Studies of this effect have shown that increasing misinformation familiarity through extra exposure to it leads to misattributions of fluency when the context of said information cannot be recalled. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620952797#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2017 study</a> examined this effect in myth correction. Subjects rated beliefs in facts and myths of unclear veracity. Then, the facts were affirmed and myths corrected and subjects again made belief ratings. The results suggested a role for familiarity but the myth beliefs remained below pre-manipulation levels. </p>