NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are Tennessee And Texas Hotter?

February 1, 2000

Some advocates of the global warming theory point to warmer-than-average local and global temperatures as evidence of "a discernible human impact" on climate. Last year, Vice President Al Gore said Tennessee had warmed substantially since he was born. Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, on the other hand, has expressed skepticism about global warming.

Are Tennessee and Texas warming? Fortunately, high-quality, long-term monthly temperature data for both states are available from January 1895 to the present. According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) records:

  • From 1895 to 1998 the year-round temperature in Tennessee declined an average of 0.00607F per year, or 0.63F over the 104-year period.
  • During the same period the summertime temperature (June through August) declined an average of 0.00963F per year, or a total of slightly more than 1F.

Since Vice President Gore's birth in 1948, the average temperature in Tennessee has dropped by more than half a degree (0.59F). The highest temperature ever measured in Tennessee came well before he was born, in August 1930, when Perryville recorded 113F.

According to the NCDC records, the situation in Texas is similar. Although Texas warmed during the 1979-1998 period, it is still cooler than early in the 20th century:

  • From 1895 to 1998 the year-round temperature in Texas declined an average of 0.0053F per year, or a total of 0.55F.
  • The summertime temperature declined an average of 0.0037F per year, a total of 0.38F.

Despite the impression that a substantial change in climate is occurring, temperature records confirm that neither Tennessee or Texas has experienced the warming that Vice President Gore is worried about.

Source: Robert C. Balling Jr.(Arizona State University), "Global Warming Politics: Are Tennessee and Texas Getting Hotter?" Brief Analysis No. 310, January 31, 2000, National Center for Policy Analysis.

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