We humans are notoriously bad at mathematics, especially when it comes to statistics and applying numerical values to real-life situations.
Averages are often misleading. Don’t believe me? Consider this…
If you’re at a shooting range and your first shot goes one foot to the left of the target, while your second is a foot to the right, you haven’t actually hit anything but, congratulations, your average is a bullseye!
When it comes to climate change, there’s an abundance of thoroughly researched science converging on the conclusion that human technology has significantly changed the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution, causing it to retain more energy (heat). Don’t believe me? I don’t care. Your beliefs (and mine) are irrelevant. The beliefs of the President of the United States, however, have a huge impact on government policy and corporate action, so it’s alarming to see him tweet this.
It seems this is a perennial complaint from conservatives during winter. But complaining it’s cold in winter is like complaining it’s dark at night. It kinda misses the point.
Often, on the news, you’ll hear comments such as “climate change is expected to raise the average temperature by 3 degrees,” and it can be tempting to think this is trivial. After all, “a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming” can’t be all that bad if it’s only a few degrees.
The problem is…. this is a gross misunderstanding of averages.
Averages are notoriously misleading.
The first half of this chart varies from 4-6 while the second varies from 3-7 which means the average in both cases is a nice round 5, and this is the problem with the argument—”Oh, it’s a bitter cold winter, how can there be global warming?”
The answer is, you can’t look at the average. You’ve got to look at the trends and swings, as the average will always soften the picture. The real problem when it comes to climate change is that we’re facing more extreme swings along with the warming.
Speaking of pictures… while you’re going through a bitter cold winter in the northern hemisphere, here in the south, birds and bats are dropping from the sky, having been killed en masse by the heat.
It’s past time to take climate change seriously. Don’t be fooled by talk of averages or cold winters as that hides the gruesome, horrifying reality that we’re decimating the planet.