Thursday's New York Times featured more politicized environmentalist doom-mongering from Justin Gillis, the paper's chief alarmist, in "2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year on Record." That's based on temperatures in September 2015.
A nine-month temperature reading wouldn't seem the most compelling news hook, but that didn't stop Gillis from going above and beyond the stats to work in all his usual alarmist environmental and anti-"denialist" political points, even suggesting that "civil wars" may break out in tropical countries because of global warming, while dismissing the inconvenient truth that temperature growth has stalled since 1998. Gillis's story was unabashedly politicized from the start:
Global temperatures are running far above last year’s record-setting level, all but guaranteeing that 2015 will be the hottest year in the historical record -- and undermining political claims that global warming had somehow stopped.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American agency that tracks worldwide temperatures, announced Wednesday that last month had been the hottest September on record, and in fact took the biggest leap above the previous September that any month has displayed since 1880, when tracking began at a global scale. The agency also announced that the January-to-September period had been the hottest such span on the books.
Gillis then went beyond the facts to blame "weather-related disasters" that have yet to occur:
The extreme heat and related climate disturbances mean that delegates to a global climate conference scheduled for Paris in early December will almost certainly be convening as weather-related disasters are unfolding around the world, putting them under greater political pressure to reach an ambitious deal to limit future emissions and slow the temperature increase.
Gillis confidently folded in El Nino alongside climate change, but later admitted that researchers have found no connection between higher temperatures and more severe El Nino effects.
The combined effects of El Niño and greenhouse warming are already roiling weather patterns worldwide, probably contributing to dry weather and forest fires in Indonesia, to an incipient drought in Australia and to a developing food emergency across parts of Africa, including a severe drought in Ethiopia. Those effects are likely to intensify in coming months as the El Niño reaches its peak and then gradually subsides.
Earlier this year, the global warmth contributed to a spring heat wave in India and Pakistan that killed many people, possibly several thousand, with temperatures hitting 118 degrees in parts of India. The effects on the natural world have also been severe, with extreme ocean temperatures bleaching coral reefs around the world, and many of them likely to suffer lasting damage.
The effects can be profound, with some research even suggesting that civil wars become more likely in tropical countries when they are under stress from an El Niño.
Gillis used the incomplete data to do a touchdown dance, accepting NOAA's data intimately (though suspicions of data fiddling abound).
For much of the past decade, people who question established climate science have been claiming that global warming had stopped. Their argument depended on picking a particular base year -- almost always 1998, the final year of the last strong El Niño -- as their starting point.
But mainstream climate scientists said that was a statistically invalid cherry-picking of the data, and their analysis of the entire record showed that global warming never stopped -- at most, the rise of surface temperatures slowed somewhat, even as the oceans continued to warm at a brisk pace.
The record-setting warmth of 2014 and 2015 has undermined the idea that the problem of greenhouse emissions had somehow solved itself, though some Washington politicians continue to repeat the claims. Climate scientists have not wavered in their view that the long-term temperature increase poses profound risks and that emissions must be brought under control.