05/16/2012 08:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Earth Warming by the Day... and the Month... and the Year...


A trend is defined as "a prevailing tendency or inclination." See if the following strikes you as a trend: The warmest January-April period on record was part of the warmest 12-month period on record, which was preceded by the warmest calendar year on record, which immediately followed the warmest decade on record.

I see a trend -- it's getting freaking' HOT! In case you didn't pick up on the subtle pattern described above, here's a 26-second video from NASA that shows how the planet warmed between 1880 and 2011. The map in the video changes from a refreshing blue (lower than average temperatures) to a an uncomfortable orange (higher than average). You can even see the warming accelerate in the late 20th century as man's greenhouse gas emissions increased.

Yet while the trend towards a warming planet marches on, the trend in people's belief that our climate is changing may be no trend at all. The public at large seems to say, "Climate change is a problem, except that it's not because the planet's not warming -- but now I think it is... but people don't cause it, except that they actually do."

Think I'm exaggerating folks' fickleness? Here are the results of some recent studies:
  • People are more likely to believe in global warming if they're sitting near a dead (rather than live) tree. The more dead trees, the more they believe
  • People have greater concern about climate change -- and are more likely to donate to a cause that combats the problem -- if they're asked their beliefs on a hot day
  • Subtly mentioning the words "heat," or "boil," or "Equator" to a listener makes them more likely to believe in global warming

Just think: if we killed off a few trees and said "boil" constantly, maybe everyone would get on the program.

If people can be influenced by a hot day, why can't they be influenced by a time-lapse video showing 131 years of progressively hotter days? If we could make that happen, THEN we'd have a trend worth following!

(P.S. Boil, boil, boil)

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