The climate change story in one image
|Raw data: http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/v6.0/tlt/uahncdc_lt_6.0.txt|
In the context of the climate change skeptic viewpoint I have often seen this chart used to flag that 2016 is within statistical margin of error no warmer than 1998 and that December 2016 was cold and thus "There is no warming trend!"
While the chart shows the published data it uses at least these methods to obfuscate the Global Warming trend in the data:
- Large visual weight on individual monthly averages as blue dots
- Adds to the impression that there is a lot of noise in the data and confuses the picture as global warming is discussed in yearly averages over decades.
- Annotates a 13-month running average with red
- Climate change is normally discussed as 30 year or longer trends.
- Plots every gridline label
- Adds to the noisy and detailed ("sciency") impression and hides the yearly average.
- A wide aspect and long x-axis range
- Reduces the visual impact of the temperature trend.
- Annotates the month of December 2016
- The average of December 2016 does not say anything about the average of 2016 nor the climate trend. It appears as a decoy to re-frame the discussion away from the trend and over to the peaks in '98 & '16 that are El Niño events.
Climate change is the story of the year
For me the climate change theme provides an abundance of interesting and challenging topics to explore: How to use data visualisations to tell the climate story, citizen science projects contributing data, the challenge of linking global policy with everyones daily life, how to handle impossible So-Me discussions and much more ...