Trump Takes Office Following the Three Hottest Years in Recorded History
A chart of global surface temperature anomalies, meaning changes from a baseline, for the 2016 calendar year. Here the baseline is 1951–1980 (source: NASA). For the most part, the globe is a mask of red, and the Arctic is a sea of dark read, virtually "burning up."
by Gaius Publius
Nature bats last, and when it comes to global warming, nature is three-for-three during 2014, 2015 and 2016. For the third year in a row, global temperature has been the warmest in recorded history. Global temperature in 2014 surpassed all previous years; 2015 temperature surpassed that, and 2016, the year just ended, was the hottest of all.
In addition, "this is now the fifth time that the temperature record has been shattered in the current century (along with 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2015), and it’s the 40th consecutive year featuring an annual temperature above the 20th century average. All 16 years of the 21st century rank among the seventeen warmest on record, with 1998 being the eighth warmest" (Gizmodo).
This is worrisome enough, but it's clear that temperature rise is accelerating as well, though not necessarily on an every-year basis (2017 may be a bit cooler than 2016 due to the La Niña effect, but no one knows for sure).
In general, expect more change, and expect it to occur more rapidly than anyone wants or expects. Also, expect more and faster consequences, both trivial-but-noticeable and deadly.
The Arctic Is "Burning Up"
The phrase "burning up" is meant figuratively, of course, but only because the Arctic is so cold to start with. As I wrote late last year, the North Pole was 50 degrees warmer than normal in December — that's the winter month of December — warm enough in fact to melt winter ice. You can see warming that reflected in the chart at the top. The darkest red on the chart is around the Arctic. The summer with no Arctic ice is fast approaching, perhaps this year or next will see it, and the winter with no Arctic ice is on the horizon as well. Many alive today will see the last Arctic ice in human history.
Why is the Arctic so much warmer than, say the Antarctic? Because the northern hemisphere is where almost all the industrial activity is. Take a look at the GIF image below.
The northern hemisphere is awash in daily CO2 emissions from industrial and consumer energy use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and methane). That rate is increasing, not slowing. Tick, tick, tick.
If Trump Won't Stop This Disaster...
Which brings me to my real main point, which I'll pose as a question for now. Let's assume Donald Trump and his cabinet-level band of climate destroyers — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, EPA director-designate Scott Pruitt and others — are determined to make the climate disaster worse, and to make it arrive sooner than it otherwise would.
What are the choices left to us besides laying down and taking it?
That's the question. There are answers. Americans are a resourceful lot, not much given (usually) to laying down and taking it. It will be interesting to see what the American people come up with when they know that help from their government will never come.
Watch for it. Because they will do something.