Searing February heat shatters global record, called 'whopping' by skeptic
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Does everybody still believe global warming is a hoax? Yet more data confirms what scientists have feared for a long time, the planet is warming, and it may have passed a tipping point. The latest data now reveals that February 2016 was the hottest February on record, and it blew that record by a wide margin.
A polar bear lies dead on an Arctic beach that ought to be covered in ice. The record warm temperatures have resulted in havoc on Arctic ecosystems.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - February is a cold month, especially in the northern hemisphere, so it's surprising to see that it was so hot. And hot is the right word to use. According to climate data, the entire northern hemisphere was 2.43 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average, and a full third of a degree hotter than the record.
Whens peaking of climate records, it is common to deal in tenths or even hundredths of a degree. To see a third of a degree, or, in this case, nearly two-and-a-half degrees, overall, is literally unprecedented. February 2016 is the first month in history that global average temperatures exceeded the 1.5 degree (Celsius) average.
Scientists also noted that the warmth was unusually concentrated in the Arctic, contributing to record ice melt and likely weather anomalies.
While El Nino can be blamed for some of the weather anomalies for 2015-2016, global warming also has a major role to play in both El Nino and overall temperature rise. Also, EL Nino, despite its hype, is only responsible for a tenth of a degree Celsius rise in years when it occurs, which means the additional 1.2C degrees of warming cannot be attributed to the Pacific weather phenomenon.
The heart of the problem is simple thermodynamics. The planet is absorbing more radiation from the Sun than it is putting back out into space, resulting in a slow warming trend. The additional radiation is stored as heat, both in the atmosphere and in the oceans. Part of the reason for this imbalance appears to be rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, which traps heat. The increased heat increases evaporation, and water vapor is an even better store of heat energy, which causes yet more warming.
Scientists are alarmed because it has taken over a century to see the planet warm a full 1 degree Celsius. Now, in the past five months, the planet has warmed another half degree. Will we see 2 degrees before the summer is though? It's an alarming thought.
According to the most pessimistic global warming hypothesis, once the planet sees 2 degrees Celsius of average global warming, the climate trend will be virtually irreversible. The polar ice caps will melt, resulting in sea level rise and destroying cities. Shifts in weather patterns, as well as more extreme weather will destroy food crops and render some regions nearly uninhabitable. Mass extinctions of many species could occur.
These changes will impact humanity by forcing mass human migration, while also disrupting food and water supplies. This means more conflict and chaos overall.
A map showing temperature anomalies for February 2016. Note the deep red in the Arctic.
Indeed, we have already seen the beginning of polar ice melts with Arctic ice now the lowest it has ever been recorded for a winter season. Animals, especially in the Arctic, are facing famine as food supplies run low. Polar bears are dying off in large numbers. And people are being impacted too. The warmer temperatures mean less snow and ice, which is hurting people whose lives depend on the snow and ice. As coastal villages thaw, erosion as well as a lack of food available for hunting is creating challenges all around the Arctic.
In the tropics, scientists are alarmed because around the world, they're observing the single greatest coral bleaching event in history.
Despite these well-documented changes, a hardcore of deniers continues to dispute that anything unnatural is happening, insisting that either humans are blameless, or that nothing unusual is happening at all. However, to believe this requires the denial of the nearly unanimous consensus of the scientific community.
Even climate skeptic Roy Spencer characterized the warming as "whopping."
The hot weather means a lot less ice and softer ground in the tundra.
Thousands of climate scientists around the world have no reason to lie about this basic truth: humans are pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere with predictable effect. If we are to survive the future without extreme climate disruption and mass extinctions, we need to curtail emissions. Scientists are not getting rich off these discoveries. However, the fossil fuel lobby, has been implicated in pushing climate change skepticism. The scandal is such that authorities in the U.S. have even discussed bringing suit against prominent deniers, much the same way the government sued those who claimed cigarette smoking wasn't harmful.
While few Americans would support such harsh action against climate deniers, their work is producing a discernible harm, as our nation fails to decisively tackle its own problems with CO2 emissions.
An Inuit village must now rely on sandbags to prevent erosion of their island home. For hundreds of years, until now, ice provided the protection they needed.
How hot does it have to get for us to see that the scientists are right? How many species need to go extinct before we start to care? How high does sea level need to rise before we act? How bad does global warming have to impact your life before you change your attitude?
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