Global Warming is Alive and Well (in Columbus)

To illustrate some of the poor reasoning that goes into claims of global cooling (15,000,000 hits on Google) I determined the trend in annual degree days for Columbus from 2000 to 2013 (a).

Heating degree days can be used to estimate how much you need to use your furnace in the winter. Typical values for Columbus are around 5000. The number of heating degree days has been decreasing at a rate of 0.2% per year, indicating a trend towards slightly milder winters.

Cooling degree days can be used to estimate how much you need to use your air conditioner in the summer. Typical values for Columbus are around 1000. The number of cooling degree days has been increasing at a rate of 1.7% per year, indicating a trend towards warmer summers.

Of course, this does not prove that global climate change is real.   It actually illustrates a common fallacy – drawing a conclusion from one measure of change over too small an area over and over too short a time.  The web site < http://www.skepticalscience.com/> covers all of the faulty reasoning that characterizes climate-change skepticism.

(a) The degree day annual totals for zip code 43215 were obtained from http://www.weatherdatadepot.com/ using a reference temperature of 65 F. Degree days are defined in <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/degree-day&gt;

Ohioans are Saving Energy – Barely

Over the past decade, residential energy use in Ohio has gone down – not by much, but the trend is there. For the three major sources:

Energy Source           Residential Usage, 2005                Average Rate of Decline

Natural Gas                 323 billion cubic ft.                          1.4 percent per year

Gasoline                      5.12 billion gallons                          0.8 percent per year

Electricity                    54 billion kWh                                  0.2 percent per year

The current trend for natural gas is the extension of a long-term trend. The annual decrease of well over one percent has been going at least since 1968. The average Ohioan used about 65,000 cubic feet in 2013. (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010oh2a.htm).

Gasoline Usage reached its all-time high in 1978 and is virtually unchanged  over the past 20 years. A car getting 25 miles per gallon and travelling 12,000 miles per year uses almost 500 gallons of gasoline annually http://www.eia.gov/state/seds/data.cfm?incfile=/state/seds/sep_use/tra/use_tra_OH.html&sid=OH

Electricity usage climbed steadily from 1990 onward, but has plateaued since 20005. The average Ohioan uses about 900 kWh per month.  See U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-861, “Annual Electric Power Industry Report.”