NASA’s recent downgrading of 1998 as the warmest recorded year in the US should automatically overturn the Supreme Court’s global warming decision, no? After all, the majority opinion in that bitter 5-4 split expressly noted the view that “1998 was the â€˜warmest year on record.‘” So since 1998 now turns out to have been a tiny bit cooler than 1934, that voids the Court’s ruling, right?
Wrong. At this point, new facts, or newly discovered factual errors, can only come into play if EPA takes account of them in reconsidering its decision not to regulate carbon dioxide. And 1998’s precise status was hardly a pivotal point in the Court’s decision. (For that matter, the Court was referring to 1998 as the warmest year globally, not nationally.)
But 1998’s downgrading does add one point to the arguments that EPA could make, on remand, in support of its original decision. The majority opinion viewed climatology as now being a mature science, characterizing the field as having been “in its infancy” in 1970. The events of the last week (ironically the same week that Newsweek carried its idiotic cover story on global warming “naysayers”) illustrate how premature that characterization is. Even putting 1998’s altered status aside, last week’s new study on the moderating effects of cirrus clouds indicates just how much there is that we don’t know about climate.
EPA could use arguments like this to stand firm on not regulating carbon dioxide. Will it do so? Not a snowball’s chance.