Q&A – Global Warming Is Ihe US Cooling

Today’s entry - Really..."Now, realclearenergy.com is reporting that there has been no increase in average temperatures in the continental United States over the last 14 years, as measured by these new stations. If anything, overall temperatures are slightly cooler than they were."

Bottom Line:This note comes on back of yesterday’s story demonstrating that there’s not a one size fits all answer to sea level rise - sea levels are both rising and falling across the country and across the world depending on location. So, if there’s more to the sea level rise story than is generally reported, what about temperatures? Yes, as your note suggested there is more to that story as well. 

The recent Real Clear Energy story you referenced cites NOAA observation information from its Climate Reference Network. That network includes 114 temperature stations across the lower 48 states. So, what’s NOAA monitored since its network of temperature stations went online in 2005? Close to nothing. Actually, not nothing, they're constantly recording and documenting temperatures. It’s that they haven’t recorded any average increase in temperatures across the country. In fact, to the extent there’s an average difference – it's ever so slightly negative. That’s right, the average change in US temperatures since 2005 is a decrease of about 0.1-degree Celsius. I’m guessing you haven’t heard that factoid reported anywhere? Still, there was more to the story. 

It is true that many measurement instruments have reported slightly higher temperatures overtime. What was pointed out in the article is that generally those temperature gauges aren’t using accredited readings. NOAA placed the weather stations in non-urban areas that wouldn’t be influenced by urban sprawl. Most monitoring isn’t being done this way. It’s obviously true that if you replace a patch of grass with a patch of pavement, you’ll register higher average temperatures in that specific location. That’s different than climate changes in temperature. 

Global temperature changes, like sea levels, are likely different based on geography. As always there are two sides to stories but one side to facts. And the facts make this conversation far more complex than the way it’s used politically, or generally taught in our schools. 

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