The world has never, ever been hotter. In fact, the odds that the world got as hot as it did are 650 million to one. The new data should end the climate change debate once and for all.
Except none of the above information is exactly right.
(Image via das_miller/flickr)
On Jan. 16, the Associated Press reported that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
On Friday afternoon, the AP issued a clarification that gutted the original story and likely left readers puzzled.
AP “clarification” on 2014 being the warmest year ever is really something http://t.co/1sd0ST9CTK— Jon Passantino (@passantino) January 25, 2015
The 650 million-to-one statistic, the AP noted, was a bit out of context, and the original story also omitted an explanation of the margins of error in hottest year calculations — margins of error that could easily negate the claim that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
Read the AP's whole clarification below:
In a story Jan. 16, The Associated Press reported that the odds that nine of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000 are about 650 million to one. These calculations, as the story noted, treated as equal the possibility of any given year in the records being one of the hottest. The story should have included the fact that substantial warming in the years just prior to this century could make it more likely that the years since were warmer, because high temperatures tend to persist.
The story also reported that 2014 was the hottest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, but did not include the caveat that other recent years had average temperatures that were almost as high — and they all fall within a margin of error that lessens the certainty that any one of the years was the hottest.
An earlier version of the story quoted Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis as noting that the margin of error makes it uncertain whether 2014 was warmest, or the second, third or sixth warmest year. She said that regardless, the trend shows a "clear, consistent and incontrovertible" warming of Earth. That reference to the margin of error was dropped in later versions.
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