Given that we've been tracking temperatures for well over a century, we know what to expect. It varies by region, of course, but in the Northern Hemisphere, Februarys are cold and Julys are hot.
Because we've been tracking temperatures as long as we have, we also know that Julys keep being far hotter than Julys used to be and that Februarys keep being far less cold. In fact, as The Post reported on Thursday, February was the warmest February we've ever recorded globally. February was 2.18 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average temperature for February.
(As Mashable's Andrew Freedman noted, the temperatures were so high that the mapmakers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke their own color scale.)
Not only was February unusually warm; it was the most unusually warm month of any we've ever recorded. No month has been more warm relative to the 20th century norm for that month than February was.
The six months that have been the warmest relative to the norm for those months in our recorded history? February 2016 set the new high. The other five? January 2016, December 2015, November 2015, October 2015 and September 2015.
You may notice a pattern.
Earlier this week, we got another bit of data, too. Concern about global warming, as measured in annual Gallup polling, is at its highest point since 2008. More than a third of Americans say they worry about climate change "a great deal," and more than a quarter say they worry about it a "fair amount." In total, just shy of two-thirds of Americans express concern about the world getting warmer.
That we've seen the warmest year on record for two years in a row and six straight months of record-hot months doesn't prove that climate change is happening, any more than finding a blood-covered man holding a knife in a sealed room with a dead body covered with stab wounds means that the dead man was murdered by the living one. It's just exactly the sort of thing we'd expect to see if climate change theories were accurate. Those looking for a reason to assume that scientists are incorrect and there is an explanation for what's happening beyond man-made climate change will find that reason -- and scientists will disagree.
Despite the current warmth and despite increased public concern about climate change, the issue hasn't come up much in the presidential election. When debates were held in Florida earlier this month, both the Democratic and Republican candidates for the presidency were asked to address the warming climate. This was in large part because a number of mayors in the state demanded that candidates address the issue, since sea level rise in Florida -- caused by warmer oceans and melting ice -- is already causing regular flooding in the southern part of the state.
The Democrats offered some general responses. Sen. Marco Rubio expressed skepticism and then said no law could address the problem -- but he's out of the race, anyway.
The Republican front-runner didn't answer the question, but he has said things like this on Twitter:
It's late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast! It's now CLIMATE CHANGE
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2014
The politics of climate change are weird, in part because the subject itself is massive, global and -- usually -- slow to present itself. But it's hard not to notice that as temperatures and public interest in the subject both increase, so has the intransigence.
Last month, as voters went to the polls in early primary states, most of those places were at least five degrees warmer than normal. But in campaign rhetoric, nothing has changed.