Media Attack the Highest Temperature Record on Earth in a Ploy to Make Present Day Temperatures ‘Unprecedented’

An article this week in Gizmodo aligns with several other media claims that the 130 degree temperature recorded in Death Valley this past week is somehow validation of “global warming.” They could not be more wrong.

Gizmodo author Jody Serrano writes:

Saying Death Valley’s records from 2020 and this year are the highest temperatures ever recorded on Earth is not without debate, though. As explained by the Washington Post, the 130-degree reading is behind only two other temperatures ever measured. The first one is a 134-degree Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) reading in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, and the other is a 131-degree (55 degrees Celsius) measurement in Kebili, Tunisia on July 7, 1931.

The Post cites weather historian Christopher Burt, who has criticized the 1913 Death Valley record temperature as “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective.” 

On social media, I’ve been assaulted with the belief that “Many meteorologists believe the 1913 reading should be decertified as unreliable, just as the 2012 reading in Libya was. If it is decertified, which is likely, this would be the new record, eclipsing last year’s measurement of 129.2 degrees F in Kuwait.”

The “many meteorologists” boils down to the opinion of one Christopher Burt of the popular weather website Weather Underground, who is pushing decertification based on his pet theory that hot sand grains in a dust storm imparted additional heat to the thermometer bulb on July 10th, 1913. Or that there was “observer error”. But there’s no science or history backing this up; it is just an opinion.

The only way to prove the sand grain theory would be to setup an experiment in Death Valley on a day like that 130°F reading last weekend with a test rig to blow in sand grains to the weather shelter housing the thermometer. They’d need to use the actual sand there, because sand varies greatly is size and composition. Burt wants you to believe the weather station might be unreliable, but history says otherwise.

In terms of the reliability of the Greenland Ranch weather station at Death Valley, California, there should be little question in that regard.  The US Weather Bureau (now known as the US National Weather Service) actually established this weather station in 1911 in cooperation with the company that operated the ranch.  In their own words, the US Weather Bureau “carefully tested maximum and minimum thermometers” and stated that “the instrument shelter at this station is the same as those used at several thousand other weather stations maintained by the Weather Bureau throughout the United States”. The US Weather Bureau summarized by stating “the extreme maximum temperature of 134°F recorded on July 10, 1913, is the highest natural-air temperature ever recorded on the earth’s surface by means of a tested standard thermometer exposed in a standard ventilated instrument shelter”.

Click either of the images above to see the history of the station. The images are from the publication Monthly Weather Review.

But here’s something the media tends to ignore. July 1913 had several days at or above 128°F. This is simply “business as usual” for Death Valley. In fact, back in 1913, over 100 years of “global warming” ago, Death Valley’s official weather station at Greenland Ranch also hit 130°F or higher three times that July. This was an intense stretch of hot weather from the 5th through the 14th when the high temperature reached 125°F or higher each and every day. In fact, this 10-day stretch still ranks as the hottest stretch ever recorded in Death Valley. The hottest days in this time period occurred from the 9th through the 13th when the high temperature reached at least 129°F with the hottest being on July 10th when the record-breaking 134°F was measured.

Here is the table of high temperature records for Death Valley. Note the top three records occurred during July 1913. Six of the top 25 records were in July 1913. So much for Burt’s opinion of “meteorologically impossible” and “observer error”.

Until such time it is decertified by the World Meteorological Organization, this “unreliable” opinion about a well-known temperature record accepted for over 100 years remains flat out wrong. The 134°F maximum temperature as being the hottest-ever remains fact.

While climate crusaders would like you to think recent 130°F temperature is more “proof” of global warming aka “climate change” induced by fossil fuel use putting more carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The irrefutable fact is that in 1913, CO2 in our atmosphere was about 43% lower than today at 290 parts per million in 1913 compared to the “Climate crisis” level of 418 PPM today.

You have to wonder, if current CO2 levels are responsible for record heat waves today, as climate activists like to claim, how did CO2 produce a still unbroken record temperature of 134°F back in July 1913 and the longest stretch of hot days ever?

The answer is; it didn’t then, and didn’t today.

The unbearably hot weather in Death Valley is a combination of a hot regional weather pattern and local factors (such as below sea level elevation) found nowhere else on Earth.

This claim of “unreliably measured temperature” is nothing more than a transparent attempt by global warming zealots (and Christopher Burt is one) to make the past cooler so they can scream about high temperatures today as being “unprecedented.”


Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website

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  1. Here’s the stunt the Los Angeles Times pulled last week:

    “. .Death Valley . . temps are expected to reach a blazing 130 degrees Sunday — tying a record for potentially the hottest on Earth in nearly a century.”

    . . but, in a century + 8 days, try 134F

  2. In the Sahara where the atmosphere is very dry, the over night temps. are known to drop 36 degrees F. I know people accept this without question but I wonder why the limit of 36 degrees, also does it hit 36 just before sun up, one hour, 2 hours or more before sun up, I would like to know. In addition the global temps. used by the climate change advocates are average temps. We do not know how how much heat is lost over night. I know scientists love averages, but the average temp. of the Sahara is likely about 70 degrees F. Anyone who dresses for 70 degrees would be in big trouble.

  3. I use the previous low temperatures compared to the day’s high temperature as a gauge. Is the delta consistent with the climate of the area?
    In the case of Death Valley, every one of the night-time lows was succeed the next day by a daytime high consistently higher with every other reading for the month. To call it an “error” just shrieks of subversive manipulation.

  4. Single, local temperature readings are a completely separate climate phenomenon from average global temperature which is used to track climate change and global warming. This article is an obfuscation and distraction symptomatic of our broken information system.


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