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Spike in Weather-Related Hashtags: Is Climate Change to Blame?

Climate change is a trending hashtag on Twitter

If you’ve tuned into the news, radio, or social media channels recently, you may have noticed an increase in conversation about how bizarre the weather patterns have been lately. From freak snow storms to record tornado outbreaks, devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures, people have been looking for someone or something to blame.

When we Googled “What is to blame for extreme weather outbreaks” to try and find the culprit, we discovered that the majority of search results pointed to one thing in particular: climate change.

One reputable result, The Weather Channel, for instance, interviewed climate scientists to garner their thoughts on how much they thought climate change was to blame for the warm weather the East has been seeing this winter. But even they were left with loose ends to questions.

Dr. Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information told The Weather Channel, “While this incredible heat may very well be due at least in some part to climate change, we just can’t attribute this particular event directly to global warming without more in-depth analysis.”

Since scientists won’t know until the coming months if they can tie these peculiar weather patterns to climate change, the energy-efficient folks over at SaveOnEnergy took it upon themselves to find out how the rest of the general public feel about it all. As part of a study, they examined an astonishing 1.8 million tweets. After all, Twitter is a hot spot for trending weather topics and speculation.

Most Used Climate Change Hashtags on Twitter

climate change hashtags trending on twitterBased on the analysis of data, they found natural disasters pertaining to weather such as  #flooding and #HurricaneMatthew to be mentioned in 46 percent of the tweets. But alongside this spike in weather-related hashtags were also familiar environmental terms including #Climate, #Renewables, #Carbon, #ClimateChange, #Paris Agreement, and #GlobalWarming which collectively, dominated 36 percent of the share.

This past year, states like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, experienced record flooding while parts of Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Florida, and other territories witnessed the widespread destruction and catastrophic loss from hurricane Matthew. So, it’s not surprising that #flooding and #HurricanMatthew topped the chart, however, the study did unveil that weather-related events sparked conversations about climate change and the environment.

Interestingly enough, though, weather events weren’t the only causes for fueling social media conversations. There was also a notable increase in July (8,000 tweets) in relation to trending climate topics on Twitter when Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential race.

But overall, the largest increase in tweets with the hashtag #ClimateChange occurred at the same time weather-related hashtags were being used, most notably in late September, early October with news of Hurricane Andrew.

According to Twitter, there’s a clear correlation between #ClimateChange and major storms like #HurricaneAndrew and more recently, #StellaBlizzard but we’re hoping climate scientists will be able to tell us more come summer and will finally be able to figure out who or what to place the blame on.

To view the full study, visit SaveOnEnergy: https://www.saveonenergy.com/blame-game-twitter-talk/

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