Well, you’ve got to hand it to them. Fresh from its wash-out “barbecue summer” the Met Office is predicting that next year is likely to be the warmest one ever, exceeding 1998, which holds the present record.
The logic is that there is forecast to be an El Nino, which always heats things up, next year as in 1998: if it is a strong as it was then, the extra amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated over the intervening 12 years should ensure a record year. But if – as after a similar forecast for 2007 – the El Nino does not materialise or turns out to be weak, the Met Office will be left with egg on its face again,and sceptics will have a field day.
But just suppose the forecast turns out to be right. What will the sceptics do then? At the heart of their case is a claim that the world is cooling down - based on fixing the starting point in the anomalously warm 1998 and drawing a line from there, even though beginning in 1997 or 1999 would give very different results. Statisticians have condemned the practice, but they have gone on with it.
If 2010 really turns out to be warmer than 1998 that trick (to coin a phrase) will be blown. And it will be all the more so if, as the Met Office is forecasting, half the years between 2010 and 2019 are warmer than 1998. Will they admit they were wrong – or try to find a new way of massaging the figures?
Anyway, don’t bank on scorching sunny days if the Met Office is right,. World wide it should be a wash-out. More heat evaporates more water which falls as more rain. It may be another barbie-free year.