Warming up

The credibility of James Inhofe is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.

Last year was the hottest year on record for the contiguous 48 states, marked by near-record numbers of extreme weather events such as drought, wildfire, tornadoes and storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In its annual report, State of the Climate, NOAA reported that the average annual temperature was 55.3 degrees — 3.3 degrees greater than the average temperature for the 20th century. It was also a full degree higher than the previous record-high temperature, set in 1998 — the biggest margin between two record-high temperatures to date.

The report confirmed what many Americans may have suspected over the last year: that extreme weather events are becoming more common. The only year when there were more extreme weather events was 1998, largely because a greater number of tropical cyclones made landfall, NOAA researchers said.

In 2012, the Upper Midwest was hit with floods, the mid-Atlantic with sudden summertime storms, the West with wildfire and the Northeast with Hurricane Sandy, among many other events. Most of the country even now remains in the grip of drought.

For years, climatologists have been reluctant to draw a line from climate change to specific weather events, and the NOAA authors of the report were cautious about making links. But a growing body of research has begun to indicate that climate change creates conditions for the kinds of temperatures and events the United States experienced last year.

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