Fact Check: Is LA Rep. Lenar Whitley Right or Wrong about Global Warming?
Raw Story notes Louisiana State Representative Lenar Whitley has posted a video titled “Global Warming is a Hoax” in her campaign for a seat in the U.S. Congress:
Among Rep. Whitley’s many claims of a secret “conspiracy” to fool humanity into thinking that global warming exists, she declares that all it takes to disprove global warming is a thermometer. Speaking of the movie An Inconvenient Truth, Whitley says:
“Any ten-year-old can invalidate their thesis with one of the simplest scientific devices known to man: a thermometer. The Earth has done nothing but get colder each year since the film’s release. God certainly has a wonderful sense of irony.”
It’s convenient that Rep. Whitley would mention a thermometer, because NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies maintains a record of temperature readings from around the globe over land and sea that stretches back to 1880 and that is updated with the latest temperature readings every month. These temperature readings are taken with… you guessed it… thermometers.
What do the thermometers say? Let’s do as Rep. Whitley and look forward at the years since the 2006 release of the film (and book) An Inconvenient Truth, with NASA’s temperature records as scientific grounding. There’ve been 7 full years since 2006: 2007-2013. In those 7 years, global temperature readings averaged .58 degrees celsius higher than the 1951-1980 average. In the 7 year period before that (2000-2006), the global temperature readings averaged .55 degrees celsius higher than the 1951-1980 average.
In other words, the Earth appears to have actually gotten slightly warmer since the release of Al Gore’s film. Let’s put that in longer term context, with seven-year periods Rep. Whitley implicitly embraces going back to 1965:
|7 year period||global temp anomaly compared to 1951-1980 average|
I encourage you to keep going back in time in the data; the farther back you go, the colder those seven-year periods get.
Another way of putting this in context is to think about the top ten hottest years in the record. 5 of those 10 hottest years are… you guessed it!… in the 7 years since 2006. Don’t feel too bad for 2008 and 2011 — they’re among the hottest 15.
In short, all it takes is a thermometer to figure out that Lenar Whitley is simply wrong. Lenar Whitley didn’t bother to check the thermometers before she shot her “global warming is a hoax” campaign video. How do you think she might go about governing if she makes it to Congress?
P.S. On a different note, Rep. Lenar Whitley’s statement that “God certainly has a wonderful sense of irony” should trouble Christian Biblical literalists everywhere. The definition of the word “irony” is not what most people think it to be (a funny coincidence), but is rather an occasion in which a person says one thing but really means the opposite. If God is ironic, then the Bible is ________. You fill in the blank.
P.P.S. Is it possible that being dead wrong is a winning campaign strategy for Lenar Whitley? Unfortunately, yes. As of right now, her campaign video has generated 340 thumbs up and only 140 thumbs down.