You already know it's hot in Bakersfield. How could you not?
But did you know it's getting even hotter? And more often?
From January through December, including unseasonably mild winters, scorching summers, and warm springs and autumns, the San Joaquin Valley's southernmost big city is warming rapidly.
So says author Thomas Munro in his new book, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, titled “Local Warming: An almanac of American climate change."
"Your overnight lows are higher than normal," Munro said Friday in an interview from his home in Albuquerque, N.M., "... but the most radical difference in Bakersfield are the highs."
In fact, from 2011 through 2017, 71 of 84 months averaged warmer-than-normal highs. In other words, 85 percent of the past seven years has been warmer than normal.
The Harvard-educated journalist said he undertook this project because Americans are discouraged by media, politicians and even climate scientists from connecting the very changes they are experiencing in their daily lives to global phenomena.
"It is this disconnect between the powerful, unsettling lived experience of a changing climate and the bogeyman of climate change that inspired this book," he said.
"Global warming is too often treated as a theoretical fancy of a mysterious cabal of scientists," Munro wrote in the book's preface. "Global warming is, it seems to many, a hypothesis residing in rarefied halls of academia, and climate scientists seem to endorse this vision by refusing, on entirely legitimate scientific grounds, to associate any given day’s weather with the greenhouse effect."
Indeed, meteorologists and climate scientists are wholly justified in their resistance to associate weather phenomena with climate phenomena, Munro wrote. However, when this reluctance is combined with media owners’ lack of appetite for the subject, "many Americans are left thinking that weather is what you have at home, and climate is what goes on elsewhere," he wrote.
But decades-old warming trends underscored by the extraordinary record over the past seven years tells a story of local warming, Munro argues in his study, "changes that are already impacting the way people live and plan for the future in their own communities."
According to the data, Bakersfield was the most abnormally hot large city in the country over the past seven years, averaging 3.1 degrees above normal highs. It was also the most unrelentingly above normal.
California’s state-level results are equally worrying. It was more abnormally warm over the past decade than any other state in the country, averaging a staggering 3.1 degrees above 20th-century normal highs. It has warmed steadily for the past 50 years.
These are not numbers pulled out of thin air.
According to the National Weather Service's Hanford station, the past four years are now among the top 5 warmest years on record for Bakersfield. And 2018 is on track to end up in that company.
Fresno has experienced a similar warming effect. The past six years are now the six warmest years on record for Bakersfield's northern neighbor.
Brian Ochs, a meteorologist and climate specialist at the weather service in Hanford, has told The Californian it's likely connected to global climate change.
"Yes, it does appear pretty likely that's the case," Ochs said earlier this year. "It's been warming across the United States and this is consistent with what we're seeing."
Munro is not a climate scientist, and in his book he doesn't identify the cause or the solution to climate change. He doesn't delve into related topics such as melting ice caps, rising sea levels or extreme storm activity.
He deals only in temperature records in the nation's 100 most populous cities.
And it's not a pretty picture.