2010 the Hottest Year Ever?

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Here’s a good explanation of why calling 2010 the “Hottest Year Ever” isn’t supported by actual measurements. (link) Keep in mind that Hansen (who doesn’t deserve to be called Doctor anymore) is the scientist at NASA who was found to be committing outright fraud by manipulating data. He was also on the payroll of George Soros.

Now, let’s ask ourselves some fundamental questions that apparently we, the non-climate scientists, are not allowed to ask. These cut at the very heart of the issue.

Laying aside the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Greenhouse Effect, let’s consider what they mean when they say “hottest year ever”.

How do you measure the temperature of a year? It almost sounds absurd when you put it like this, but this is what they are claiming to do.

See, temperature is something you measure once the systems come into equilibrium. It is a constant number, one that doesn’t change as you leave the thermometer in the system longer and longer (provided you have properly insulated your system.)

You can stick a thermometer into a pot of water and watch the mercury rise as you heat the water. You can record the temperature of the pot of water at specific times, but really you are only recording an approximate temperature. For instance, the bottom of the water may be hotter than the top, or one side may be hotter than the other. You really can’t say, at any particular moment in time, what the temperature of the entire pot is.

Someone might suggest you stick thermometers at different areas of the pot, or at the top and bottom, or in some combination thereof. These thermometers might give different readings at different times. But you can’t use these measurements to tell what the exact temperature of the pot of water is.

If someone were to ask you what the temperature of the pot of water during the entire process, from start to finish, was, you’d draw a graph or explain that the temperature was changing. You can’t give a single number and accurately describe what happened.

This is important because we know that during the course of a day, the temperature might swing from highs 70 degrees F different than the lows. The temperature in the shade is different than the temperature in the sunlight. The temperature of the ground is different than the temperature of the air. What is the temperature of the day? If you tried to use a single number, you’d be making up a story that didn’t make sense. If the high was 110, and the low was 45, what was the temperature that day? It’s an absurd question.

So likewise is the question of what the temperature of the week or month or year or decade or century or millennium. What was the temperature of the Ice Age? The 1990’s? These questions don’t make sense, and can’t be answered except in describing the range of temperatures observed or describing how the temperature varies throughout the day and how measuring the temperatures of the dirt, or air, or shade or sunlight would give different readings.

How then do climate scientists even begin to talk about the temperature of 2010 being hotter than 2009 or any other year?

Do they mean the average high of each day? Or the average lows? Or the average of half of the sum of the highs and the lows? Are they measuring air temperature in the sun or shade? Or the temperature of the earth? I cannot answer any of these questions. I doubt the climate scientists would like to either. It’s certainly not convincing when you say something like, “We recorded the highs all over the earth, and found that there were a few more days with a higher high than normal, and not enough days with a lower high, and thus the highs were slightly higher than they were over the last century.” Well, what about the lows? Is it possible to have the hottest and coldest year on record in the same year? It depends on how you measure it.

Finally, I want to tell you about the fallacy of measuring the average temperature, something I hear people talk about from time to time without explaining why it even makes sense. First, what sense does it make to measure the average of anything? When we want to summarize a population, if we only have the average we really don’t know much about what the population looks like. Other numbers, such as the standard deviation, the mode, or even the median give us much more insight into what the population looks like.

Assuming you do take the average of all the temperatures. What significance does this number have? You have effectively taken an instantaneous measurement of a value that varies over time and space, points which aren’t even representative of the entire sample, and derived a new number. How easy it is to manipulate this data! If you stick more thermometers where things are getting hotter, and fewer where things are getting colder, you can greatly change the average, all without changing the underlying facts.

Until someone proposes a significant meaning to average temperature, when that average is taken over time or space, I don’t care who says what year was hotter than which other year. We might as well be talking about how blue the Smurfs are or have been, because there is jus as much significance to that as average temperature.

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