Climate Donkey

June 28, 2008

Climate change searches: Google trends show waning interest.

A popular and easy tool to track the evolution of internet search engine requests is provided by Google Trends.

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Each week, there are countless news pieces and press releases concerning zillions of climate change impacts, aspects, and prognostications about the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere.

When searching for “climate change”, the following Google Trends plot is produced:
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The change-points are labeled A-F with the most significant being the release of the IPCC climate change report beginning in early 2007.  After the Nobel Peace Prize presentation (F), and the beginning of Northern Hemisphere winter, interest in climate change crashed in late December 2007.  The bottom time series indicates a drop off in news reference volume going into 2008 that has not reached the hysteric levels of 2007.

This chart includes worldwide searches, with the rankings according to region stacking up as follows:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. South Africa
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Canada
  6. Ireland
  7. Singapore
  8. India
  9. United States
  10. Switzerland

It follows that the top 6 out of 7 cities are located in Australia with the first three being Canberra, Adelaide, and Sydney.

In the United States, the top state searching for climate change is Vermont, with the District of Colombia, Alaska, Maine, and New Hampshire finishing the top-5, respectively.  The number one city is Boulder CO, where the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is located and is heavily involved in climate change research.  Very few surprises here.  The more liberally oriented (blue states) areas of the country tend to care more about envrionmental issues such as climate change.

A similar plot can be produced for “global warming” searches.  The drop off over the past few months is similar to the fall-off seen in the “climate change” search.  Interest in hurricanes has become almost non-existent.  With the exception of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, in which the 4-Florida landfalls and Katrina/Rita lit up the news wires, the past 30 months have seen little interest.

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