What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?

Jul 16, 2014

Republicans search the Net for information about the weather, climate change and global warming during extremely hot or cold spells. Democrats Google these terms when they experience changes in the average temperatures. These are some of the surprising findings from a study by Corey Lang of the University of Rhode Island in the US, published in Springer's journal Climatic Change. He tracked how the temperature fluctuations and rainfall that Americans experience daily in their own cities make them scour the Internet in search of information about climate change and global warming. To do so, he used data from Google Trends, local weather stations and election results.

Google Trends aggregates all Google searches that are made, and measures how popular a specific search term is. Users can fine tune this to be specific to a particular place (such as a country or city) and time (such as monthly or on a specific date). Lang specifically checked how often, when and where citizens in 205 cities in the US used the search terms "global warming," "climate change" and "weather." The terms "drought" and "flood" were also included because increases in these natural phenomena are important predicted impacts of climate change. Monthly statistics were collected for the period from January 2004 to May 2013. Lang then matched them with local weather station data, as well as the 2008 presidential election results in Dave Leip's "Atlas of Presidential Elections."

Lang found that search activity increased when extreme heat was felt in summer, when no rain fell over extended periods, and when there were fewer extreme cold snaps in winter. Such weather fluctuations are consistent with projected climate change. Interestingly though, searches also increased when average winter and spring temperatures dropped – events that are inconsistent with . Lang believes this could mean that people who observe unusual extreme weather conditions are genuinely interested in learning more about climate change. It could, however, also mean that deniers, who experience an unusually cool winter, go online to confirm their skeptical views that the world is not really growing warmer.

People from varying political and educational backgrounds reach for their devices at different times to check out information on climate change. Republicans and people from less educated areas do more relevant searches during periods of extreme temperatures, while Democrats and residents of well-educated areas do so when they experience changes in average temperatures.

"Weather fluctuations have an impact on climate change related search behavior, however not always in ways that are consistent with the impacts of climate change. And the research suggests that different types of people experience weather differently or have different perceptions about what type of defines , " concludes Lang.

Explore further: Climate change: Don't wait until you can feel it

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User comments : 16

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TegiriNenashi
1.3 / 5 (12) Jul 16, 2014
What a waste of taxpayers money.
Dr_toad
Jul 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TegiriNenashi
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 16, 2014
Which missiles? Are you suggesting we don't need advanced propulsion systems to explore outer solar system and beyond? Is this impotent research waste cumulatively that small that it doesn't affect ambitious projects (e.g. Superconducting Super Collider)
Dr_toad
Jul 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TegiriNenashi
1.4 / 5 (11) Jul 16, 2014
Are you sure he did perform this "deniers research" with on his [University of Rhode Island] staff salary with no federal grant money involved?

strangedays
4.2 / 5 (10) Jul 16, 2014
Do you read the articles, or just post knee-jerk stupidities?


The latter of course. Just downvote Tegir - and move on.

Instead of saying missiles - you should have mentioned the F-35. $400 billion and counting - and it doesn't really work.

http://www.usnews...ing-jobs
Dr_toad
Jul 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (9) Jul 16, 2014
At least it wasn't wasted on missiles or bribes this time.
-- da toad
What a waste of a brain. Is what I would say if you had one.
Dr_toad
Jul 16, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
axemaster
5 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2014
Instead of saying missiles - you should have mentioned the F-35. $400 billion and counting - and it doesn't really work.

You forget the fact that even if it does work, it's going to be obsolete in a few years by drones many times cheaper and more powerful. So it really is money going into a black hole.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (8) Jul 17, 2014
You get that from your book of snappy comebacks? Your reading speed is about 200 wpm, eh? You've been working on this for hours, too. Great effort! Gold star time for you!

Why you think I'd be insulted by your childish crap is beyond me.
-- da toad
There you go just proving my point. Anyone with a brain would be insulted.
Your flippant disregard of the fact that trillions are being wasted on the lie that is AGW "science" makes you the perfect brainless Chicken Little for the cult.
Trillions that could be used to cure diseases, alleviate poverty, and prepare for the worst that the climate can throw at us.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (8) Jul 17, 2014
You get that from your book of snappy comebacks? Your reading speed is about 200 wpm, eh? You've been working on this for hours, too. Great effort! Gold star time for you!

Why you think I'd be insulted by your childish crap is beyond me.
-- da toad
There you go just proving my point. Anyone with a brain would be insulted.
Your flippant disregard of the fact that trillions are being wasted on the lie that is AGW "science" makes you the perfect brainless Chicken Little for the cult.
Trillions that could be used to cure diseases, alleviate poverty, and prepare for the worst that the climate can throw at us.


AntiEm: Please give me a reference for what you think has been wasted and how much it costs. Also, you must think there is something wrong with the AGW theory.

Have you posted your falsification for the AGW theory and collected your $30K yet?
antigoracle
1 / 5 (8) Jul 17, 2014
Thermo: When that website accepts my proof do you promise to stop braying like a donkey?
You should read the previous comments to comprehend mine. If you still don't, then I would suggest you grow a brain and get lessons in reading and comprehension.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (7) Jul 17, 2014
Thermo: When that website accepts my proof do you promise to stop braying like a donkey?
@anti
don't you mean "IF" they accept your proof...
I can't speak for Thermo (regardless of what others say) but I can tel you...
IF you can use the scientific method and
IF you have empirical data and
IF you prove the point and win the $30,000.oo
THEN we will have no choice but to accept the evidence because it will be EMPIRICAL

The problem is... you first have to accept the challenge and TRY
you don't have to be original, but you DO have to be first

REPEATING a lie like your "wasting money" comment does NOT make it true
No matter HOW many times you repeat it... it will STILL be false
Only an IDIOT would accept it as fact without researching it

Feel free to show us how science works and win that CHALLENGE!
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (7) Jul 17, 2014
AntiEm said:
Thermo: When that website accepts my proof do you promise to stop braying like a donkey?
You should read the previous comments to comprehend mine. If you still don't, then I would suggest you grow a brain and get lessons in reading and comprehension.


When your "proof" is accepted I will start singing your praise. I am serious. If you can falsify AGW you will become famous. You will be on talk shows, you will be paid to speak at gatherings, you will be issued honorary degrees, and you will be paid amazingly well. I will also make it a point to discuss your (then famous) proof on this site and sing your praise. Until then you appear to me to be worthless.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (8) Jul 17, 2014
THERMODYNAMICS SAID
When your "proof" is accepted I will start singing your praise. I am serious. If you can falsify AGW you will become famous. You will be on talk shows, you will be paid to speak at gatherings, you will be issued honorary degrees, and you will be paid amazingly well. I will also make it a point to discuss your (then famous) proof on this site and sing your praise. Until then you appear to me to be worthless.

agreed and seconded
antigoracle
1 / 5 (8) Jul 17, 2014
When your "proof" is accepted I will start singing your praise. I am serious. ..blah..blah

Thermo, you have just confirmed what an ignorant Chicken Little you are in the AGW Cult. The fact that you would accept the conclusion of a website that you know nothing about, has given me cause to lose what little respect I had for you.
Dr_toad
Jul 17, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
strangedays
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2014
has given me cause to lose what little respect I had for you.


Wow - that must really sting - I am glad that I am not Thermodynamics - my world might come to an end if I thought that I had lost the respect of antigoracle.

Antigoracle being the person who consistently posts childish comments - ones that a self aware five year old would look at and say "how old are you?"

Here is an example of antigoracles deep and profound commentary

"I guess that would make you, supatard, a moron and a tard"
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2014
Which website, vixra, or something worse? How much will it cost you to have them "accept" your paper? Do you feel you get a better deal and more exposure if you pay more?

If delusional vanity publishers weren't all too common, it would be funny. In sad way.
--toad
Are you really that stupid, to respond to a comment directed to someone else without even attempting to gain the slightest understanding of what it is about.
Dr_toad
Jul 17, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2014
When your "proof" is accepted I will start singing your praise. I am serious. ..blah..blah

Thermo, you have just confirmed what an ignorant Chicken Little you are in the AGW Cult. The fact that you would accept the conclusion of a website that you know nothing about, has given me cause to lose what little respect I had for you.


AntiEm: I am crushed to think that you might not respect me in the morning...

The web site is waiting:

http://dialogueso...nge.html

It is free. No charge. All you have to do is to prove AGW is false. If you can, you win $30K. Since you have said you have already proven that, you should already have your money.