Fox News is questioning accurate temperature data in an attempt to refute evidence of climate change cited by President Barack Obama in a major speech Tuesday.
During coverage of Obama's address, Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked weather forecaster Joe Bastardi whether Obama's statement that "[t]he 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years" is correct. Bastardi responded "no":
But Politifact examined the temperature data and rated a similar statement by Obama true:
Data from NASA shows 13 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15, and by a different data set produced by NOAA, 14 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15. Obama was actually over-cautious in his statement, so we rate his statement True.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the "urban build-up" that Bastardi referenced has not compromised the reliability of this temperature data.
While Cavuto suggested that Bastardi was "part of the 3 percent" of climate scientists who deny manmade climate change, Bastardi is not a climate scientist and weather forecasting differs from climate science in important ways. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained, the projections made by climate models are more predictable than short-term weather forecasts:
[L]ong-term variations brought about by changes in the composition of the atmosphere are much more predictable than individual weather events. As an example, while we cannot predict the outcome of a single coin toss or roll of the dice, we can predict the statistical behaviour of a large number of such trials.
Bastardi has made several statements about climate change that scientists have called "completely wrong," "scientifically incorrect" and "nonsense." In 2012, Bastardi claimed that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming," which Rolling Stone rated the number one "dumbest thin[g] ever said about global warming."