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Change in hottest year fuels global warming skeptics

A tweak to NASA’s record shows that 4 of the 10 warmest years in the US
occurred during in the 1930s, not more recently. Climate change deniers say this points out that concern over global warming is unfounded.

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Was 1998 the hottest year in United States history, as most reporting on climate change has presumed? Or was that record set back in 1934 before "global warming" became a scary household phrase?

A corrective tweak to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's formulation shows that the hottest year on record in the US indeed was back during the Dust Bowl days.

But does this mean that all the concern about global warming being a relatively recent phenomenon tied to carbon-belching power plants and hulking SUVs is a bunch of Al Gore hooey?

Climate change skeptics and their cheering section among conservative bloggers and radio shoutmeisters think so – even though most scientists say, no, the tweak is not a big deal and overall trends are in the direction of toastier days around the globe.

The controversy began "when Steve McIntyre of the blog e-mailed NASA scientists pointing out an unusual jump in temperature data from 1999 to 2000," reports The Los Angeles Times.

"When researchers checked, they found that the agency had merged two data sets that had been incorrectly assumed to match. When the data were corrected, it resulted in a decrease of 0.27 degrees Fahrenheit in yearly temperatures since 2000 and a smaller decrease in earlier years. That meant that 1998, which had been 0.02 degrees warmer than 1934, was now 0.04 degrees cooler."

Put another way, the new figures show that 4 of the 10 warmest years in the US occurred during the 1930s, not more recently. This caused a stir among those critical of the push to stem human-induced climate change.


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