HIGH NOON–Inauguration Global Warming Temperature Watch

by Sam Kazman on January 20, 2009

in Science

When President Bush leaves office today, will the capital be warmer or colder than when he was sworn in eight years ago?

It’s not scientifically meaningful, but it is interesting.

Bush has been heavily criticized for doing precious little to curb our emissions of carbon dioxide. During his eight years in office, atmospheric CO2 levels climbed by over four percent.

So what did Bush’s dilly-dallying produce in terms of deadly global warming? The temperature at noon in Washington DC will give us one factoid. It’s a scientifically meaningless factoid, since the local temperature on any one day, let alone any one hour, tells us nothing about long-term temperature trends, but it’s heavy in symbolism.

When Bush was first sworn in, in 2001, the temperature at noon in DC was 36 degrees F. What will it be today, when he leaves office? Will the capital be warmer or colder than when he took office eight years ago?

Don’t be surprised if it’s colder. Today’s forecast is for relatively low temperatures. More importantly, despite steady increases in atmospheric CO2, and despite everything you’ve heard about climate catastrophe, there’s been no warming for about the last decade, and the planet has actually cooled over the last three years. (This is from the British Hadley Centre’s data on land and sea surface temperatures. The Centre’s global surface temperature graph shows this in somewhat compressed form, but you can easily graph its data yourself to get a better idea.)

That should lead us to ask where’s the warming?

But first, let’s see what the temperature is at noon, when President Obama is sworn in.

And I repeat–this is scientifically meaningless, but I think it’s interesting.

(As for Bush’s failure to curb CO2 emissions, I doubt that even stringent curbs would have had any effect on atmospheric CO2 levels.  More importantly, that failure was, I believe, a good thing in terms of affordable energy and human wefare.  And the CO2 curbs that Bush did support and which will soon go into effect, such as higher fuel efficiency standards for cars, will prove extremely harmful to both consumers and the auto industry.  But that’s off topic, sort of.)

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