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back to article NASA pegs Noughties as hottest decade on record

The past decade was the warmest ever on record, showing that global warming is "continuing unabated," according to a new report from NASA. New surface temperature figures released by the US space agency on Thursday show average global temperatures have increased by 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade throughout the past three decades. …

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unabated != undebated

nuff said

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Undebated?

You seem to be under the sad and derisory illusion that scientific data is made available for "debate". That would be politics & religion - not science.

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Precision: not backed up == deleted

Before y'all jump on my answer saying that raw data on climate was deleted, I want to remind the less tech-litterate folks that in IT terms "not backed up" is an almost exact synonymous for "willingly deleted". El Reg's readership is supposed to be tech-litterate enough to know that as a fact, but a reminder never hurts.

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Debate

You seem to have a strange view on science. Science is no religion. Science is all about debate.

As every scientist on the planet I am paid mainly to debate over scientific data. That's actually the very basis of science. That's why data and protocols should be available to anyone. What do we have here? Data collected over a small percentage of the surface of the globe. The raw data actually shows a remarquably steady temperature. The increase touted is only due to a "correction" factor applied by people whose funding depend on the warming being real. Now I'm sure the correction factor must be justified somehow, and the data might even be representative of a global trend, but it at least needs to be debated.... not religiously believed.

It doesn't help that the other big dataset on global temperature trends was deleted for "storage reasons". Any scientist worth his salt knows that if you have to keep only one thing, keep the raw data. Everything else can be derived from that, but you will never find the original data back. Suspicious.

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facts ? sez who

Since NASA has been a suspect source in the past, how does an ex-cathedra statement become fact ?

Assertions are made, full stop.

IMNSHO, a citizens first duty is to say to to any expert or authority , "How do you know that ?", especially when confronted by governments and self identified messiah groups.

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Re: What?

Interesting. Dr. James Hansen is the Lord High Progenitor of anthropogenic global warming. Did he diddle the numbers like the East Anglia guys? Somehow, I am unimpressed with anything he says. (Well, maybe negatively.)

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what he said

Yes, the man who insists on transparency and open debate by climate researchers (but apparently not skeptics) is also the only reg contributor to disable comments.

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You don't have to ask

They provide a link to their data sets and a fairly detailed description of their methodology. Got better data, or a better analysis? Knock yourself out.

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IR

Hehe

Looks like he got my post deleted too! There was nothing offensive in it at all about anyone, it was on-topic. Ah well.

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Dead Vulture

@Zobbo & IR

Given the response He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (at pain of moderation, it seems) got when he did - accidentally? - leave an article open for comments, I'm not surprised he usually locks things down.

Got one of mine modded then too, for no obvious reason at all, and have my doubts about this one ever seeing the light of day in the first place. For a site that styles itself as snarky and irreverent El Reg seems to be unwilling to take things far milder than it dishes out itself.

@The mod before you bin this: /Are/ there even any posting guidelines to be had? It doesn't help your rep at all when even mildly critical posts get canned for (apparently) simply daring to disagree with your authors.

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WTF?

Yet another Holy Grail of Fear

The weather has always captivated the human curiosity about what the future may bring; and despite all the "mis-predicitions" that have taken place "since modern temperature measurements began being recorded in 1880"; one has to wonder, "Why the fuck would anyone believe a weatherman?"

I mean, REALLY.

Lets look at the HOLES in our electromagnetic field, not weaknesses, HOLES.

Maybe if NASA had a "smaller carbon footprint", we wouldn't be in this situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Climate != weather

and the space weather that sneaks in through holes in the magnetosphere != atmospheric weather generated by winds, currents and the differential heating of land and water masses

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It might help your post

if you knew the difference between weather and climate.

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Paris Hilton

However

This is great. They assume burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of global warming, but:

"though there was a "leveling off" between the 1940s and 1970s"

Isn't that the time frame of things like the V8 cars/trucks that got 8mpg, nuclear bomb testing, and coal-based power plants burning at full steam with next to no regard for emission filters? Granted they have most likely built more coal plants since then, but all have been tightly mandated on emissions....Perhaps the nuclear blasts were saving us! (not likely, but hey, why not jump to conclusions?)

Also, wasn't it NASA that calculates "average global temperature" by averaging select regions of the world, while neglecting regions of africa, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, and large regions of the Antartic? Most of which are shown by satellite-based temperature-monitoring stations to have "normal" or "below average" temperatures....

Perhaps NASA just borrows data from our Climategate friends. Any Scientist's collected data has to be legit, right?

Don't get me wrong here. I full well believe something we are doing as a species is causing adverse effects on our environment. Just what that is? I'm probably as in-the-dark as these scientists, except I'm not publicising my stabs-in-the-dark.

Paris, perhaps the average temperature was raised by all the people she makes hot and bothered....

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I wouldn't say NASA so much generally,

but Hansen more specifically. In particular his now thoroughly debunked "hokey [sic] stick." I expect this is more of the same.

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1.5%?

I'm just going by feel here, but it seems like the lower 48 probably make up more than 1.5% of the surface area of the planet.

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US-Area

Really? You think that maybe NASA got it wrong, but by pure gut-feel you can get it right? What's your best guess then?

2 minutes research - about as long as it took you to write your gut-feel response provided me with the following:

Surface area of earth: 5.1 * 10^8 km2 (500 million square kms)

Surface area of USA minus Alaska and Hawaii: 8.13 * 10^6 km2 (8 million square kms)

Looks like 1.5% to me, but maybe I'm using the same numbers that NASA used. Maybe your gut-feel is still correct.

This kind of "Nah, it can't be" attitude doesn't really matter when we're talking about the area of a country, but is crazy when we've got on the one hand people who have devoted their lives to understanding the climatic processes of the world we live in, and on the other hand some clown like Orlowski who thinks that he, with all his weeks of training as a hack on a tech-site can come up with insights the true experts haven't thought of. The true experts have forgotten more than Orlowski will ever know.

As several people have pointed out, nice to have an environmental report that

a) doesn't say "I know global warming isn't true b/c I had a really cold day yesterday"

b) has comments enabled.

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um...

It's great that you can have an opinion about an uncontrovertable fact...

do the math.

8 080 464.25 (land area of the lower 48 in km^2) / 510 072 000 (surface area of the earth in km^2)= 0.0158418111

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USA surface area

9,629,091 Km2 - area of USA (1.888% of total surface)

1,717,854 Km2 - Alaska

7,911,237 Km2 - non Alaska USA (1.551% of total surface)

510,072,000 Km2 - surface area of the earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_outlying_territories_by_total_area (Includes only the 50 states and the District of Columbia. UN figure includes Great Lakes and coastal water areas but excludes territorial waters)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska

USA is 6.5% of land surface of the earth

Contiguous area of the USA is approx the same size as Australia

(assumptions are that Wikipedia is correct on these - normally a safe bet for non contentious facts)

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Grenade

NASA (and NOAA) cooking the books

Here's just one article on recent analyses suggesting that the CRU aren't the only ones massaging the data to support their own conclusions.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/01/climategate_cru_was_but_the_ti.html

These numbers are the primary bases for much of what passes for climate science and have been used to calibrate virtually all climate models. And it's all utterly corrupted.

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Jobs Horns

More people = more energy = more heat

No matter where your fuel comes from... people are using more energy than they did 10-15 yrs ago.

As gadgets and consumer stuff gets more efficient, manufacturers will find ways to waste that efficiency for the "benefit" of consumers.

Converting a fuel into energy will always release heat at some point in the process, doesn't matter where the energy comes from in the process.

Yes that processor/GPU in your computer gives off heat... doesn't matter where the energy came from. 10 years ago you would have been laughed at for asking for a 500W power supply.

Converting more fuel into energy for more people with higher energy demand = more heat. Simples!

batfastad predicts teenies to be the hottest decade on record... you read it here first. Eat that NASA

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Boffin

Heat isn't the issue

True, but not actually the key point.

Okay, I'm being pedantic but:

The extra heat released by these 500w computers etc isn't really important: The energy we receive from the sun dwarfs the energy we consume from fossil fuels.

However, when we burn fossil fuels we release CO2.

CO2 in the atmosphere traps the heat from the sun: there's a cool experiment you can do where you use an infra-red camera to look at a candle through a glass cylinder - not with the candle in the cylinder; just looking through it. The candle will show up fine on your camera's screen. Then fill the cylinder with CO2. The candle will disappear from the screen. It is this effect that scientists are talking about when they say that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

It is this CO2 (and other gases) that then makes the energy we receive from the sun heat the planet more effectively.

So it does matter where the energy comes from. If _all_ our energy (planes and cars included) came from solar/wind/nuclear/geothermal etc then energy inefficiency would be almost benign.

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Coat

I think the word you're looking for is "entropy"

mine's the one with the heat death of the universe in the pocket

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Bit late but @Heat isn't the issue

I've heard this simplistic line before.

If you follow the logic of your comment... the CO2 stops heat from candle getting through...How does the SUN's heat get here in the first place??

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How the sun's heat gets here

Easy: The sun's heat arrives on earth as relatively short wavelength radiation: Visible through to ultra-violet (the stuff that gives you sunburn).

Warm items (such as the earth's surface) produce infra-red radiation (what an IR camera or sensor sees).

So extra greenhouse gases don't stop the sun's heat arriving but do stop them leaving.

That's why in the experiment I described with the candle, you can still see the candle through the CO2 filled tube, but the IR camera can't.

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Medieval Warming

Only using records back to 1880 - just after the mini-Ice Age!

We need figures going back to 1400 or thereabouts to include the Medieval Warming.

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FAIL

Local versus global

The medieval warming period was a local phenomenon affecting Europe and the eastern US, there is no evidence that it affected the rest of the globe.

I have yet to see an anti-climate-change argument that holds together better than a clown car on a bumpy road once you start looking at the real science, rather than reading the opinion of ignorant people who think they are being "clever" and "different" but are spouting the same tiresome lies that the media is being paid to feed them.

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Evidence

Evidence for a 'Medieval Warm Period' in a 1,100 year tree-ring reconstruction of past austral summer temperatures in New Zealand (Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 29, no. 14, pp. 12-1 to 12-4. 15 July 2002) - E. R. Cook, J. G. Palmer, R. D'Arrigo

Evidence for the existence of the medieval warm period in China (Climatic Change, vol. 26, nos. 2-3, March, 1994) - De'Er Zhang

Local to Europe and the eastern US?

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Hansen: Professional Liar

Hansen is a professional liar. If NASA sees fit to put him in position of responsibility, then NASA needs to be defunded.

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Yes, it is warming!

It is warming. It is the warmest year in the warmest decade of the warmest century. You may be looking at snow and at thermometers. This is a mark of being in denial. You do not understand that temperatures cannot simply be measured, a great many different stations have to be assessed.

We cannot tell you which stations. We have signed confidentiality agreements which forbid it. No, we cannot give you copies of these agreements, we have lost them.

Then the raw data has to be adjusted. No, we cannot, alas, give you any of the raw data before our adjustments. We used to have it, and would love to make it available, but we lost it during an office move some years ago. Sad.

Anyway, moving right along, there is warming, its catastrophic, its going to get worse. Plagues, floods, famines are going to happen. But there is a way to avoid all this. All you have to do is pay! Isn't that simple? You thought it was far more complicated and difficult than that. No, you just have to pay. Who do you have to pay?

Well, a number of people. First you have to pay me, to continue my studies into just how awful this is all going to be. Then you have to pay the US Corn industry. This may surprise you, but it is necessary. We have to pay them to stop growing food and instead grow oil. Or, if they insist on growing food, they have to be paid to not sell it to anyone to eat, but instead turn it into oil.

Then, you have to pay to erect large religious monuments all over the Highlands of Scotland. These monuments will avert the wrath of God. You can think of them as our equivalent of the very effective Easter Island statues which were so successful in dealing with a previous energy crisis back on that little island. Or perhaps those cargo landing strips which the Pacific Islanders built at the end of WWII.

Now that you are emerging from denail a little, well, now you can go outside and look at your thermometer. It reads 2C. Well now you understand, that means that it is really 7C, and this is the warmest winter in the warmest year in the warmest decade...

Just keep repeating it, and you can walk right out of denial.

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@Nexox

Going by feel is always misleading. In very round figures, the 48 contiguous states of the US (that is, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, cover 3 million square miles, the world as a whole is 200 million square miles. So, 1.5%. Add in Alaska, and you get closer to 4 million square miles, giving 2%.

GJC

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Stop

Ten years ago, maybe I would have agreed

The winter of 2000 had a Christmas of near 70 degrees in the midwest, and there were a few years in that time when winter never really seemed to get started. But it's been almost four years now of colder and wetter weather, which I guess were supposed to think is somehow all magically warm.

The whole thing is just a tangled mess, with people bringing in political agendas and suppositions, and I'm tired of both sides. The younger people tend to forget that in the 70's the "smart" thinkers were predicting another ice age coming upon us. Today I'm convinced the oceans would freeze over and that should still be a sign of global warming, or maybe climate change is what they call it now.

In the end the scientists lost track of what they were doing, namely seeing where the facts led, and correcting their hypotheses if they proved wrong. Instead it's become making the facts fit the agenda so they'll keep their funding, and assuming the rest.

Most of the "warming" we're supposed to be experiencing is due to secondary effects from whatever carbon dioxide is supposed to accomplish, which so far isn't happening. But don't worry, they'll keep railing on that it's inevitable and only by dramatic action can we save ourselves.

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@Batfastad

The amount of energy we produce as a race (about 15TW in 2004, probably a bit more now) is dwarfed by the amount hitting the planet from the sun (174 PW, four orders of magnitude more than we puny humans produce). This is why the heat retaining effects of greenhouse gases are so important.

GJC

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Good article

... never thought that would be allowed on this site!

The reason for the leveling off between 1940-1970 seems obvious. Just like a vulcano eruption, blowing up half of Europe and burning coal in dirty power stations results in lots of particles in the air which block out the sun. Most are removed quickly, but others can take decades to wash out of the atmosphere.

It's obvious we humans have a major effect on our environment (eg. cutting down our rain forests), and that includes the climate. The debate is really about how much and how fast we are affecting it. The science may not be perfect yet, but that is just a matter of time.

The naysayers seem to prefer business as usual and burn up our scarce resources of gas, oil and coal at an ever faster pace. I wonder why? Surely improving energy efficiency and finding cleaner, more efficient, cheaper and renewable forms of energy is the only way forward - even if you are an AGW sceptic.

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Record

Warmest decade of the century, maybe.

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bah

Global warming my arse. They've reduced the number of temperature monitoring stations by two thirds in the last 20 years and have homogenised the data between them to such low resolutions that the models are reporting warming where there isn't any. To make it worse the quality of data recorded at the surviving temperature monitoring stations is poorly contaminated by urban side effects.

They should end this hysterical nonsense and put proper context to the issue of energy security. If they are desperately manipulating data to pass regulation on carbon emissions then let there be a carbon trade between the very richest and the very poorest. Let the very wealthiest buy carbon credits from the very poorest so that everyone else in between no longer has to subsidise the welfare system.

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Ahem...

Reduced the number of monitoring groundstations, maybe, seriously increased the amount of satellites though.

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NASA has lost most of its budget...

and the Dems say either speak like our puppets or go mute like the dead.

that is the way in washington now.

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Coat

0.2 degrees per decade?

I find the number rather underwhelming. At this speed, it will take a millenium until Canada become habitable...

The heavy one with a beaver hat, thanks

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Anonymous Coward

Warmest of the warm

It's worth noting how a month or season is awarded the title of "warmest ever". It's done by averaging a certain number of peak temperatures. So, despite the recent very cold weather, this winter was "the warmest on record" simply because of the very warm November. If you took the daily average temperature then it would actually be one of the colder ones.

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NASA pulls a rabbit out of a hat

I really am glad I'm not a climate "scientist" (although I am a scientist) because what they are attempting to do is very difficult indeed. In fact, I find it incredible that anyone is even trying to make accurate predictions of future climate (a known hard task) based on a motley collection of heterogeneous historical thermometer readings on which it is now impossible to impose adequate quality control. It is transparently obvious to anyone with experience in data analysis that the outcome will depend critically on which sub-set of the data you analyse.

There has been a lot of criticism of how NASA selects the 25% of thermometers it actually uses (yes, apparently it rejects three quarters of all the evidence). What would convince me a bit that they're doing it right is if they produced a similar temperature graph using just the data they had rejected. That should show variations in temperature, but no overall trend up, or down.

If it does show a trend, then others are quite justified in asking why. On what basis has the dataset been divided into two and the warming part selected to show to the world? Maybe just publishing your results works with some people, but as a scientist I know they put the rabbit into the hat a bit earlier when they selected the data - and that's the bit that I need to see justified.

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Not a very good scientist then are you?

Speaking as a scientist myself, you should think of changing careers. Most science I've worked on starts out by trying to make a prediction based on poor data. I then go out, test it, and gather new data. I then go back and look at my original assumptions and refine my experiments. With each iteration my predictions will come closer to matching the data.

"I really am glad I'm not a climate "scientist" (although I am a scientist) because what they are attempting to do is very difficult indeed. In fact, I find it incredible that anyone is even trying to make accurate predictions of future climate (a known hard task) based on a motley collection of heterogeneous historical thermometer readings on which it is now impossible to impose adequate quality control"

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Exactly what I do too...

...but the bit I miss out is claiming that I've got a result before I really have.

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Boffin

And you're good HOW?

Well To be honest you describe an acceptable protocol, but you miserably fail with the last two sentences. "I then go back and look at my original assumptions and refine my experiments. With each iteration my predictions will come closer to matching the data."

The idea behind science is that you make working hypothesis based on lousy data, then design a good experiment (i.e. one that _will_ give you an answer no matter what), go back on the field for more data, and then rework your _hypothesis_, not your experiment. Reworking the experiment is how frauds do it. If you are not good enough to design a proper experiment you shouldn't be allowed to get anywhere near science. Almost half of any science report is (and should be) discussion over the methods and interpretations. That's where you discuss the shortcomings of the experimental methods, should the need arise. Changing the experimental protocol to get data matching your initial hypothesis is _terrible_ practice. Unfortunately that's what happens routinely in climate science (as well as in most other politically- or financially-pressured scientific fields). That's also one of my pet peeves, in case you didn't notice. It's _BAD_. _BAD_, I tell you.

Yes, experiment design _is_ the hardest thing about science, and the most overlooked, sadly enough.

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Happy

Pft!

In the 60's, 70's 80's it was THERMONUCLEAR WAR, which was going to wipe us out. Part of my job as a cardboard cutout soldier was to plot the fallout across the plains of Europe from all those nukes. Then it was an ICE AGE they where predicting. Then AIDS was going to wipe us out (nerds excepted), lately it is the MUSLIM TERRORISTS that is the threat. And GLOBAL WARMING now. Oh lets not forget BIRD/SWINE FLUE.

One thing is certain YOU, yes YOU are going to die, might be tomorrow, might be when you are 90. So what difference does it make to anyone if YOU and I die tomorrow (choose your threat) , NONE, will you do anything that will change the world?, or the lives of millions? Chances are against it. So forget about global warming just get on with your lives, and in the words of Bill & Ted, be excellent to each other. There will be disasters, whether man made or natural, the Earth changes, continents rise and sink. There are mass extinctions every so often. Cue, Monty Pythons Galaxy song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buqtdpuZxvk

The same people who protested at Greenham Common against the Evil American cruise missiles that where trying to deter the Soviets are now setting up Peace camps, against coal fired powered stations in the UK. As Muriel Gray mentioned, when China s building nearly a coal powered power station per day, I'll be buggered if I'm going to turn the thermostat down. What do they really hope to achieve? When has this sort of protest ever changes anything? NEVER, not CND, nor any of the others.

Global warming or global cooling, it really does not matter, because the real problem is simply this. OVER POPULATION, a real threat destroying natural habitats and resources now, all around you, in plain sight. This is going to bring you your real change, your real apocalypse sooner than any climate change. TOO MANY PEOPLE. FINITE RESOURCES=WAR. Time to dust off my NBC gear. LOL

Have a nice day, and consume less, wear a condom.

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Grenade

What's the significance of 1.5%?

I had to read the article through twice. What's the significance of the 48 states totalling 1.5% of the earth's surface?

The only conclusion I can come up with is that this warming was only measured on mainland USA - which means it's totally irrelevant in global terms.

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Badgers

Warm?

Coldest winter for 38 years. Cold outside right now too. Cold in the office.

So where's this warm then? Do I need to wear a coat made of burning coal?

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