Despite scientists having reached a consensus years ago, considerable debate still appears to be raging over the reality of climate change.
Climate-science deniers can count several people appointed to key environmental-regulatory positions in the incoming presidential administration among their ranks.
Despite their views, it is impossible to deny that the world is getting hotter.
DON'T MISS: Global carbon emissions have been flat for three years now (Dec 2016)
On Wednesday, NOAA and NASA both announced that 2016 was the Earth's hottest year on record.
That makes 2016 the third year in a row for record-setting global temperatures, noted The Washington Post.
Average global surface temperatures were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in 2016 than 2015, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That average temperature was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century global average of 57 degrees, the agency said.
Last year also included eight successive months—January through August—that were individually the warmest since record keeping began in 1880.
NASA also declared 2016 the warmest year on record.
ALSO SEE: Methane from livestock nearing worst-case scenario for climate change: scientist (Dec 2016)
Like NOAA, the space agency tracks temperatures on the surface of the world's land and oceans, but uses a different data set.
NASA found a much larger increase in global temperatures in 2016, recording a rise of .22 degrees Fahrenheit over 2015.
It also noted that since 2001, Earth has seen "16 of the 17 warmest years on record."
Smog in Dehli, India (by Flickr user Mfield)
Compared to the late 19th century, NASA said the planet has now warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius, equivalent to 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
That is significant because climate scientists generally consider 2.0 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels to be the threshold for irreversible climate change.
Global efforts to restrain climate change—such as the Paris climate accords—use the 2.0-degree figure as a target.
In addition to the findings of the two U.S. agencies, the U.K.'s Hadley Center also announced Wednesday that 2016 was the hottest year on record, but noted that it was only "nominally" warmer than 2015.
The announcements come just days before Donald Trump—who has called climate change a "hoax" assumes the presidency and control of the very U.S. agencies making these assessments.
Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, a climate science denier who has sued the EPA multiple times.
Oil well (photo by John Hill)
In confirmation hearings held yesterday, Pruitt denied that climate change was a "hoax," as the president-elect he will serve has previously stated.
But, he contended, the degree to which human activity had contributed to that change remained unsettled and open to debate.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, tapped to lead the Energy Department, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the nominee for Secretary of State, have close ties to the fossil-fuel industry, and have also expressed doubt about the validity of climate science.
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