Let's look at the records

A couple weeks ago we looked at a study the AP commissioned showing that for nearly every span of time you care to look at, the planet's temperature is on the rise. Shockingly, climate-change deniers were no more convinced by those hard numbers than they have been by the overwhelming mass of studies and indicators that continue to emerge every week pointing to anthropogenic climate change.

Skeptics were doubtless heartened by the unusually cool summer Philadelphia enjoyed this year, following the logic of "if there's global warming, why is it getting cooler here?" Well, the answer is it depends on where you happen to be looking. The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado reported that over the last decade, there were twice as many record-high temperatures in the United States as record lows. The numbers came from "data from thousands of weather stations across the country over the last six decades."

The Reuters version of the story (you know, in case an AP version would feed the AP conspiracy theory) notes that if the climate were not warming, "the number of record highs and lows each year would be about equal. But for the period between January 1, 2000 and September 30 this year, the continental United States had 291,237 record highs and 142,420 record lows." So, technically speaking, there were actually more than twice as many record highs, to the tune of around 6,400 more.

Lead researcher Gerald Meehl added that "there have also been decreases in frost days, when the nighttime temperature goes below freezing -- there are fewer of those documented for many areas of the world, including the United States."

When it comes to math, "frosty" is the new "fuzzy!"

Jibes aside, the numbers aren't winning or losing scores - they're part of a big picture that needs to be addressed in a real, tangible way, and soon. That's why it's a pity that Copenhagen is already beginning to look like NoHopenhagen.