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The Global Warming Learning Curve

Time – October 17, 2007

I am not sure what inference can be drawn from this study but I do find it interesting. The study analyzes the search patterns of words on the Internet that relate to the topic of global warming. Without a doubt, this activity has fallen in the past few months but as with all trends, the causality is still in question.

One conclusion that the author doesn’t dig into but may hold a clue is seasonality. I don’t believe that the majority of Americans really worry about global warming (with obvious exception to Americans that read this site regularly – thank you for your support). However, I believe that students are very actively writing term and research papers on the subject.  If I look at the graph from the study, I notice that the big drop tends to align with the summer break that most students receive.  Obviously, if students are more worried about the beach, pool, and their golf game then they won’t be writing academic papers for their teachers.

So that is my hypothesis for this data – student activity. Once again this points out that data cannot in itself drive a final conclusion. But rather, we take data and create a hypothesis and then we find other ways to verify the hypothesis. I wish everyone in the global warming discussion would do this also (the Oreskes and Schulte battle comes to mind)

…survey conducted in July by Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies addressing American opinions of global warming. According to the press release issued by the school, "Americans consider global warming an urgent threat."


…Interest in global warming spiked at the beginning of this year, rising to three times its normal level on Feb. 1, 2007, coinciding with Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. But since then, the volume of searches on "global warming" have dropped off precipitously to the lowest levels in the last year….



…Hitwise captured 1,427 different searches that contained the phrase "global warming." ….92 of the top 100 terms were general or educational in nature, with the top terms including: "global warming," "about global warming," "al gore global warming," and "articles on global warming." Of the top 100 terms only four terms gave a sense of positive action: "global warming prevention," "how to prevent global warming," "ways to prevent global warming," and "global warming solutions." The other four terms rounding out the top hundred included the skeptical queries such as "global warming myth," "global warming hoax," "benefits of global warming," and searches for the skeptic’s video answer to An Inconvenient Truth: "the great global warming swindle."

You can read the rest of this article here.  Thank you to Scott of BUUUUURRRRNING HOT for pointing this out to me.  Scott wrote about the study as well and you can read his comments here.

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3 Responses to “The Global Warming Learning Curve”

  1. […] Is It Getting Warmer?has an idea that the drop in searches correlates to the summer break, when students have more pressing, crucial, life-or-death things to worry about… Like double dating. […]

  2. I simply cannot understand the ongoing debate regarding the rising CO2 and Methane concentrations within the atmosphere of this planet. Somebody please convince me that we have some other choice but to cut our emissions NOW!

  3. I read similar article also named The Global Warming Learning Curve, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me