Thursday, January 20, 2011

2010 tied 2005 & 1998 for hottest year on record

2010 was a hot one.

The World Meteorological Organization released their analysis today that the average global temperature on Earth in 2010 tied 2005 and 1998 as the hottest year on record. BBC News ran a story today hitting the highlights.

Human induced climate change is a topic that stirs up lots of emotion and debate. I think there should be lots of debate - but not on the topics where it usually is found. The debate is usually framed as "pro" or "con", "for" or "against" the science itself. The debate about whether the Earth's average annual temperature is actually rising, however, is not the place for it. The data are abundantly clear that it's getting hotter out there.

Where the debate should lie is not with whether the science is right or wrong - the numbers are what they are, and arguing against them is a poor position to take. The science of climate changing is solid evidence, and the answers are pretty clear. Rather, the debate should lie entirely with what should be done about it. This is where the question leaves science and enters the world of economics, public policy, cost-benefit analysis, and ultimately values. And the answer to this question is not straight-forward. It is complex & mind bogglingly detailed, and needs many engaged, thinking minds to work on it. Unfortunately, a sober, intelligent debate on the "what should be done" is not where our society is yet, and instead it is the science that is vilified or twisted.