A sports analogy to help explain how global warming is measured


There is a great tendency among humans in general, to filter information based on their own recent experiences. People, for example, tend to believe in global warming less on cold days.

Obviously climate change doesn't work that way. Other than the potential impact on storms, today's weather in your town has nothing to do with global warming generally. Climate is measured as an average of global temperatures everywhere on Earth over long periods of time.

For some people though this concept though and for at least some of those people this may help:

Offensive production in baseball has been in decline since 1999. The overall batting average for everyone in Major League Baseball combined that year was .271. There were a total of 5,528 home runs hit and 23,461 runs driven in. The year 2000 was very similar to 1999 and since that time there has been a slow decline. Some years were better than the year before, but up to 1999 levels.

Last year, in 2013, the overall batting average for everyone combined was .253, 18 points lower than 1999. There were 4661 home runs hit, almost 1000 lower than ’99 and 19271 runs driven in, more than 4,000 lower than the peak.

However, most baseball fans would have really noticed the slow decline. The overall drop off in offense does not mean that each player individually has suffered. It does not mean that players didn’t have good days on the field. It doesn't mean that other players didn't do even worse than the average. The decline is merely the aggregate of how all of the players did when you put them all together.

Climate change is largely the same. It is an aggregate of global weather, including weather in the oceans and at the poles, over extended periods of time. The temperature where you are today, or even a cold winter or hot summer, really has very little to do with it. When you add the weather everywhere, over the course of years, what you find is that since the year when baseballs hitters were so hot, 1999, we've had 13 of the 14 warmest years on record.
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