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Earth’s surface air temperature has increased 0.5 degrees since 2000

Rolf Westgard was incorrect about 21st-century temperatures in his Community Voices piece July 7.

On July 7, a community education instructor (Rolf Westgard) made a false statement in MinnPost about the Earth’s climate. Westgard claimed that “global surface temperatures have remained stable in the 21st century.” This is false. There are four organizations that record global temperatures. They are NASA, NOAA, the Hadley Centre in England, and the Japanese Meteorological Agency in Japan. Each of these organizations put their temperature data online; readers can easily find them.

If you look at NASA, you will find that the hottest years ever recorded (since approximately 1880) are, in order: 2014, 2010, 2005, 2007, and 1998. The Earth’s surface air temperature has increased 0.5 degrees since 2000. Currently, 2015 is set to break the prior record. The first five months this year are the hottest first five months ever recorded. The June temperature information, to be released in about a week, will break another record.

In the very next sentence, Westgard mentions my name and some of the climate research I have performed. It is important that MinnPost readers know that my own work shows that Westgard’s claim is false.

Climate change is real; we can see it clearly in the data. Opinion pages should be places where people can share opinions, even if they are confrontational. On the other hand, when false statements are made that mislead readers, it tarnishes the public discourse in a way that does a disservice to this paper.

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John Abraham, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota alumnus, is a climate scientist at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Editor’s note: The Community Voices commentary has been corrected.

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