NOAA: 2010 land and ocean surface temperatures warmest on record

NOAA says 2010 is the hottest year on record.  However, skeptics, some of whom are in the scientific community, argue that the second half of 2010 will be cooler and that the evidence for global warming is cloudy at best. 

What’s a layman to think? 

Recent news that would seem to further strengthen the case for global warming has instead touched off a new wave of controversy.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the U.S. weather bureau) released its latest data on July 15.  And the Climategate scandal was pronounced a non-issue by five independent agencies including the UK House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee.  But as CNN’s media reporter Howard Kurtz noted, the resolution of this issue went largely unreported – especially by such global warming skeptics as Glenn Beck. 

Also, with scientific-sounding websites arguing both sides of the issue, it still sounds like a toss-up.  Typical media reports seem to balance their approach by giving both positions similar exposure and credibility, even though the scientific consensus clearly favors the global warming position.  The lack of scientific credibility of the most vocal skeptics also seems to unnecessarily cloud the issue. 

Leading the charge against global warming is Marc Morano – a political operative who originated the phony Swift Boat scandal that damaged John Kerry’s presidential bid.  Morano’s website, Climate Depot claims that global warming is strictly a political issue. He claims tens of thousands of scientists have signed his petition stating that global warming is false, but a careful study of the makeup of the signatures and the nature of the petition shows that many signers are neither scientists nor climate experts. 

Based on the present evidence, I believe that global warming is a serious problem – even if less so for the current generation than for the next one.  A united, worldwide effort to combat the anthropogenic aspects of global warming could avert disaster.  

But, a critically-thinking mind is needed to carefully sift through media reports and political posturing, as sloppy journalistic practices, sensationalism, and party politics all too often drown out peer-reviewed scientific data.