Tracking 2010: in the race for the hottest year ever

The famous columnist George Will drives even his fellow editorial writers a little nuts with his condescending dismissal of global warming. As the LA Times wrote in an editorial yesterday:

You probably won't hear it from columnist George F. Will, Fox News
commentators or the plethora of conservative blogs that have claimed
global warming essentially stopped in 1998, but recent figures released
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
show that global land and ocean surface temperatures in June were the
highest since record-keeping began in 1880. What's more, the first half
of 2010 was the hottest such period ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice
melted at a record-setting pace in June.

How does Will do it? How does he dismiss over a century's worth of evidence? Simple. He focuses on global temperatures since l998. a big ENSO year. As he wrote in a column last November:

There is much debate about the reasons for, and the importance of, the
fact that global warming has not increased for that long [since l998].

At other times he's said there is no "statistically significant" warming since l998.

To be fair to Will, it's true that on this short time scale, warming is not increasing as rapidly as in the past century. But that doesn't reassure climate scientists who look at the trend. As NOAA wrote recently, reporting on June:

Each of the 10 warmest average global temperatures recorded since 1880
have occurred in the last fifteen years. The warmest year-to-date on
record, through June, was 1998, and 2010 is warmer so far (note:
although 1998 was the warmest year through June, a late-year warm surge
in 2005 made that year the warmest total year). Analysis by the
National Climatic Data Center reveals that June of 2010 was the warmest
global average for that month on record, and is also the warmest
year-to-date from January to June. This graph plots the year-to-date average global land and ocean temperature.

This just-mentioned graph, which I haven't seen before, helpfully puts Will's contention in a 21st-century context. Yes, l998 was a hot, hot year, although 2010 has a good chance of going down as the hottest ever, just as James Hansen predicted. But who in their right mind would look at this graph and wave off climate change? 

(Click to enlarge.) 

And if 2010 does turn out to be the hottest year ever, how will George Will continue to mislead? 

Irritated editorialists want to know.

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