Climate deniers have been left red-faced as the world basks in some of the hottest temperatures in living memory, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting 2014 could break all records.
Lord Lawson, who resigned as chancellor in the 1980s after overheating the British economy, has led the siren chorus, claiming that a recent plateau in global earth surface temperatures is proof that the threat of global warming has been wildly exaggerated.
The deniers have either ignored or attacked the latest research, which shows that the heat created by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been absorbed into the oceans and that surface temperatures are likely to begin rising again.
England has enjoyed balmy evenings with golden sunsets lighting up parks and gardens where trees have retained their amber and green leaves. But this wonderful Mediterranean warmth should also be understood as a chilling warning.
January to September were the warmest first nine months of a year recorded since the invention of the thermometer. This week, NASA scientists announced that September was the hottest of its kind in 135 years.
This is despite the fact that 2014 was not an El Nino year: a natural weather event that takes place every few years and boosts global average temperatures.
Pinch of Salt
Only a significant drop in temperatures in November and December, which is unlikely but not impossible, would result in the average measured temperature this year falling short of the record set in 2010.
DeSmogUK approached the outspoken Dr Benny Peiser, director of a leading climate sceptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), founded by Lawson.
But when asked what the record temperatures experienced meant for climate scepticism he simply refused to comment. When asked if this report undermines the GWPF's claims that climate change had stopped, he replied by saying “No comment”.
Peiser has not previously been coy about making statements to the media based on the temperature of a given day.
During Christmas one year he told The Times newspaper: “The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it's very cold, it does not seem to be warming.”
Climate deniers also created a media storm last year when England was hit by freezing temperatures and deluged by snow when a cold front usually found across Siberia swept the country.
Dr John Abraham, an expert in climate change, said: “This year was not supposed to be hot, at least according to those who think climate change had stopped.”
“But the real facts tell us a different story, the Earth is still warming, the 'pause' never really was, and once again… The contrarians were wrong.”
NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden said in an interview with AP news agency that it was “pretty likely” that 2014 will be the warmest on record.
Blunden explained that “persistent record warmth in the global ocean” was “strengthening the chances of the year’s final three months resembling the first nine.”
The report shows that from January through to September all months retained record warm temperatures with an average of 58.72 degrees. That's 0.68°C above the 20th century average of 14.1°C, according to NOAA scientists.
These records tie 2014 with 1998 and 2010 for the warmest first nine months on record. The United Nations has pointed out that 13 out of the 14 hottest years recorded have taken place since the turn of the 21st century.
In a statement, NOAA said: “If the surface temperature remains elevated at the same level for the remainder of the year, then 2014 will set a new record for the warmest annual average temperature since records began in 1880.”
A more daunting prospect was recently announced by the UN’s World Meteorological Association (WMA) last month, stating an 80 per cent chance that an El Nino was actually still expected to happen at the end of the year.
Jeff Masters, meteorology director for the private firm Weather Underground, said when talking to the Daily Mail that if an El Nino did happen then: “Next year could well bring Earth's hottest year on record, accompanied by unprecedented regional heat waves and droughts.”
Explaining further, the WMA said: “Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer.”
“Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”
Photograph: A Swim in the Derwent, taken October 12, 2014. Via Flickr.