How to Misrepresent Global Warming in One Graph, for Dummies

, former deputy director, Center for Science & Democracy | December 15, 2015, 12:32 pm EDT
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Late Monday afternoon, the National Review tweeted out a marvelously boneheaded graph it breathlessly called “the only #climatechange chart you need to see.” To wit:

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See? The data don’t lie! Look how little warming there has been since 1880. That is, if you extend the Y-axis by absurd levels. The range goes from an average global temperature of -10 to 110. Presumably, on the high end of the spectrum, many places would have heat waves in the 180s or 190s. We start to feel pain at 111 degrees and human skin is instantly destroyed at 162 degrees. So if the average temperature were to be 110, well, every summer our skin would fall off. Instantaneously.

It didn’t take long for the Twitterati to start making their own graphs. Worried about mass shootings in America? Well @Jonnysun has the chart to convince you there’s no problem at all:

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Concerned about the national debt? Never fear, says Sean McElwee:

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Our own Seth Michaels lamented that he never really had a meaningful growth spurt:

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Jim Petit is happy that his weight has remained virtually unchanged since his 20s (and since his birth):

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And some took comfort in the idea that nobody really reads the National Review online:

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Fortunately, there were some people who responded with more useful graphs that help us understand what changes have occurred more in line with an Earth that is actually habitable:

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Posted in: Global Warming, Science and Democracy Tags: , , ,

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  • rondean09

    Nice quick little demo . Well done .

  • The Centurion

    Human history started well before 1880, so the “any time in human history” is manifestly false.

    • neroden

      Global average temperature is higher than any time in human history. Do I need to dig out the geological-record graphs? The last time it was higher was before homo sapiens evolved, which means “before human history”. Actually it was before the australopithicines, too.

  • That chart of the week, I prefer this version of the Keeling Curve …