Born after 1976? You’ve Lived Your Entire Life on a Hotter Planet

, senior climate scientist | January 16, 2015, 11:28 am EDT
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According to NOAA and NASA, 2014 was the hottest global average surface temperature ever recorded. There have now been 38 consecutive years in a row that global mean surface temperature has been above the twentieth century average. 

My colleague Aaron Huertas suggested we compare this staggering temperature fact with census data for the world. When we compared December 2013 global census data by age, we found around 65 percent of people worldwide have never experienced an average global temperature below the 20th century average. This is likely a conservative estimate, given the yet to be fully accounted for number of births during 2014.

Map sources: NASA; International Population Data from Dec 2013 U.S. Census Bureau

Map sources: NASA; International Population Data from Dec 2013 U.S. Census Bureau

The 2014 hottest record occurred despite a fickle El Niño, the Pacific Ocean pattern that has marked previous record hot years. Is this a first taste of global warming pulling away from the ups and downs of natural cycles? Or are we going to have the to and fro for the next couple of decades?  A clue may exist in the recent hourly carbon dioxide data from Mauna Loa. The earliest hourly and daily appearance for surging past the symbolic 400 ppm mark already occurred on the first day of 2015. The first time that threshold was passed at Mauna Loa in 2014 was in March and in 2013 it happened in May.

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  • Derek

    And yet there has been no statistically significant warming of the planet for 18 years. During these 18 years emissions of CO2 have continued at record levels. Is there a convection.

    • PhemNoob

      If you’re going argue with how the data was interpreted, you should explain what you mean by ‘statistically significant’. Apparently, you seem to be better informed than 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.

      • Derek

        Those scientists actually accept the fact that there has been a pause in warming. Even James Hansen does not disagree. So its no use hiding behind a false premise. “Statistically significant” means that the difference in temperature is so small (0.02 degrees) that it is much smaller than the accuracy of the measurement (0.1 degrees)

      • cliff chambers

        If you’re going to use the 97% of world climate scientists you should tell us where it came from. I’m sure the percentage would be close to 40% for and 40% against with 20% still trying to figure it out. The biggest fact used is who paid for the study.