Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) announced that 2015 had the hottest global average temperature ever measured, shattering the previous record held in 2014. The news was widely reported in the media, including the New York Times, which declared that global warming, which had paused since 1998, is back and with a vengeance. The clear implication was that the sooner we stop using fossil fuels and putting all that carbon dioxide in the air, the better.

However, Anthony Watts, the purveyor of the Climate Change skeptic site, Whatsupwiththat, dug into the data a little bit and found that NOAA used some fuzzy math to get to the conclusion that 2015 was the hottest year ever.

The scientists who put out the report did not compare the global average temperature for 2015 with the GAT for previous years. Instead, they compared the 2015 GAT with the average GAT for the 20th century.

The 2015 global average temperature was 58.62 degrees Fahrenheit. The GAT for the 20th century was 57 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the 1997 global average temperature was 62.45 degrees Fahrenheit. In any universe, 62.45 is a greater number than 58.62.

A number of questions arise from this analysis. Why is NOAA using misleading math to make it seem that 2015 is the hottest year on record when it clearly was not? Why is the media simply printing what NOAA announces without checking facts? One would almost think that a widespread belief exists that global warming is “settled science,” and so no need exists to ask questions when the data suggests otherwise.

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Science, in other words, is being manipulated to justify a political agenda, in this case, to create a global warming crisis where none exists. That fact suggests that skepticism is greatly warranted when pronouncements about climate change are handed down from on high that may grievously affect the lives of everyone on the planet by promoting energy policies that may be unnecessary. Certainly, those who believe that global warming is a serious concern need to deploy more evidence to defend their position.