Are we hot or not? Do we believe NASA’s latest data? … Or not?


Man facing a blazing sun
o you believe NASA’s new numbers on global warming? NASA says, in short: It’s hot! And it’s gonna get hotter!
Or, maybe you agree with millions of Americans who don’t seem to believe climate change. Where do you fall in this range of viewpoints?
NASA’s conclusions are in a report just released on Thursday, “2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest Decade.” The analysis was conducted by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City.

Last year was second only to 2005 as the hottest year since reliable records began in 1880. Last year was tied as the second warmest ever with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2006. And, in the southern half of the globe, 2009 was the hottest year ever.

The “naughties”—the decade ending 2009—was the hottest decade ever recorded.

It’s hot!

Just to prove that Mother Nature has a sense of humor, 2008 was the coolest year of the decade. But it’s misleading to focus on a single year, says James Hansen, the director of GISS. “There’s substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Niño-La Niña cycle. But when we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find that global warming is continuing unabated.”

Here’s where things get complicated! At the same time 2009 was warming up to become the second hottest year ever, attitudes about global warming were cooling down. According to a Pew survey, only 35% of Americans in the last quarter of 2009 felt that global warming was a very serious problem, down from 44% in 2008.

We’ll look at more of the Pew report’s details this week. But for now I wanted to cite these basic facts so I could pose our question for the week: 

As scientific evidence of global warming continues to mount, why are more people refusing to accept it?
Why the contradiction?


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