Alex Debunks Shitty Global-Warming Post

I saw an article posted on facebook titled “Is Global Warming a Myth?” and I flippantly commented “No.”. Because, like, there’s too much false stuff in the world to try to disprove it all. However, a friend pushed back so I actually took that second to glance at the article. And OH MY GOD it’s worse than I expected. I am just going to cover Figure 1 (below). The author starts by pointing us to this chart and noting that compared to the Global temperatures (Fig 1a) the US temperature data (Fig 1b) “shows relatively little recent warming”. The implication is then that this is somehow evidence that recent warming has not happened. Let’s walk through this…

First, it’s not clear that we expect the global and US temperature records to match that closely. This is like noting that an individual student’s grade was not the same as the average grade. The global temps are an average and so it would actually be really weird if they were the same because the US is only 2% of the Earth’s area (small sample size).

But, I agree, it does kind of look like the US data doesn’t show as big of a warming trend. Though, lets be honest, no one needs Excel to see that there’s still an upward trend (below, hand-drawn blue line).

I’ll buy a six-pack for anyone who can be bothered downloading the data and fitting it. I’ll throw in a whiskey drink of your choice *if* the slope of my blue line, differs in slope by more than 20%.

But how does that upward trend for the US compare to the Global one? It certainly looks smaller! Ok, the Global starts around -0.3 C and ends at 0.55 C, a change of 0.85 C. The US is about… -0.4 C to 0.5C so a delta of 0.9. Wait, that’s bigger for the US, what the actual fuck? It was supposed to be smaller.

Well, dear reader, the author of the “myth” article is tricking you, because the two plots HAVE DIFFERENT AXES LIMITS. It took me a while to notice this bit of misdirection, but indeed, the US plot ranges from -1.5 to +1.5 while the global one is just -0.4 to +0.6 so… they just shrunk the Global plot, that’s why it looks less. I took the liberty of correcting the chart by stretching it so the axes now match in scale. I couldn’t make them both end at 0.6C because the US data would be cut off!


Now the curves look pretty similar. Not exactly the same, but you don’t expect them to be!

Look, I just don’t have time to plow through the rest of the article to figure out what wrong shit lay ahead. So I must simply implore you to simply just not trust whatever it is, if that person is either a) so willing to deceive you or b) too careless to have noticed this. What else might they be so careless of?

Big picture, scientists don’t have time to disprove all things. There’s an infinite number of wrong things and it’s nearly impossible to ‘disprove’ anything. Isaac Newton didn’t discover gravity by steadily working through all possible things that could make the worlds orbit as they do and then disprove all but one of them. Instead, we gather evidence and data to try to figure out what is most likely true based on that.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated A19Grey’s story.