By Elmer Beauregard
As a graphic designer one of the things I have to do for a living is design graphs and I have designed many over a long period of time. I am here to tell you that from the very first graph I designed I learned that every graph is designed to show a bias.
I used to work for a financial institution and they wanted me to make a graph showing a profit of 1% in the last year so I made a graph that went from 0% to 110% on the Y axis and it looked something like this chart on the right.
After getting a thorough talking to by my boss I made a second graph that looked like the second chart on the right.
The difference between the two charts is the Y-Axis and how far you zoom in, if you want to exaggerate the graph zoom way in if you want to lessen the blow zoom way out.
So now to the chart above, first I went to this site and made a chart that shows the Global Mean Temperature over the last 133 years (shown below). Of course I think this is just measuring the Urban Heat Island Effect but that’s another subject.
As you can see it shows a warming of around 1 degree Celsius of the last 133 years but the Y axis is zoomed way in and is showing only about 1% of the temperature range of the planet in any given year.
To show how this chart is exaggerated I chose one weather station in Brainerd Minnesota and collected the raw data from the last 10 years and super imposed the global mean chart over it to show that a one degree temperature shift one way or the other is almost imperceptible.
The Brainerd chart shows a 139 degree span in one year. If you were to include temperatures from the whole globe the Y axis would show almost a 200 degree span and yet we are worried what amounts to about a 1% shift in 133 years.