As you will see everywhere imminently-if-not-already, 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history. Bloomberg News has a great visualization of annual monthly temperatures over time; 13 of the hottest 14 years on record have happened since New Year's Day, 2000.

Chart of annual global surface temperature. (NOAA)

The skeptics will quickly seize on various anecdotal points to undermine the argument that the temperature record is related to climate change. And it is very much the case that one year doesn't prove the fact that the world is getting hotter (much less that carbon emissions are the cause). Science, however, is highly confident that the world is getting warmer, and that we should expect exactly what just happened: hotter and hotter years, thanks to the release of greenhouse gases.

But the universe has a sense of irony. The United States leads the world in many things, and is almost certainly near the top when it comes to stated skepticism of the existence of climate change. We are, you can easily argue, home to the most prominent climate-change skeptics anywhere. And, over the course of 2014, temperatures in the United States were actually lower than normal.


2014 was actually only the United States' 34th warmest year on record, thanks to colder-than-average temperatures in the Midwest and most of the East Coast. A map of much-colder-than-average states looks a bit like the map of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.


(Note, by the way, that California saw its hottest year ever, as it dealt with a brutal and protracted drought.)

The Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to a proposal to fast-track Keystone imminently, at which time you can expect the sorts of anecdotal rebuttals that you might be used to. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) tweeted last January, "Record low temperatures have everyone cold! RT if you have an issue with 'global warming.'" -- a tweet that has since been deleted. Inhofe is the incoming chair of the Senate committee that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency.

Of course, it was winter when Inhofe tweeted that, but rest assured that the United States' unusually cool 2014 will be raised as a counter-point to concerns over a warming climate.

Update: A spokesperson for Sen. Inhofe notes that the tweet was deleted (along with other campaign-related tweets) because the Senator was converting the Twitter account from representing his campaign to representing his office.