Global data doesn't support Reuters "fracking" Google search trend claim

Tom Nelson pointed this out this morning.

‘Fracking’ overtakes ‘climate change’ in Google searches | The Dickinson Press | Dickinson, North Dakota

This year, for the first time, U.S. online searches for the term “fracking” became more popular than “climate change,” Google data showed. Fracking has doubled on Google’s popularity index since last year, and while “global warming” still draws more hits, the gap is narrowing.

Only one problem with this: much like many claims made by the media these days related to climate, the actual data doesn’t support the claim. It took me less than a minute to locate the most recent Google trend data and see that the claim made by By Joshua Schneyer and Edward McAllister, Reuters (republished in the Dickenson Press) isn’t true.  See for yourself: 

The two terms are six points apart (in global data) as of this month, and show no history of intersection.



The data shows “climate change” trending up from 2004, that we hit peak “climate change” right after Climategate, and it has never recovered.

They may intersect in the not too distant future, but unless Reuters has some inside track to Google data that others do not, the claim isn’t supported.

Note that “fracking” is also not as popular as “global warming” though both “global warming” and “Climate change are falling while “fracking” is on the rise.


“Fracking” is in blue, “climate change” is in reddish orange, and “global warming” is yellowish.  Source:,%22climate%20change%22,%22global%20warming%22

Noting the time when “fracking” first came on the scene, one wonders that in the wake of “climategate” on November 19th 2009, if the environmental movement may have decided that “climate change” was a dying issue and moved onto “fracking” as the next exploitable call to action. The data certainly suggests it.


All graphs from Google, and you can replicate them yourself here: 

UPDATE: My initial claim wasn’t fully correct. The Global data doesn’t support the claim, the USA data does:



I’ve updated the headline to reflect this data difference. Thanks to Roger Knights for pointing out the distinction in the story.  – Anthony

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Robert M
December 26, 2012 11:08 am

Interesting. So, it looks like the bad guys went with fracking and not ocean acidity. Very soon they will desperately be seeking a new gravy train…

Tim Walker
December 26, 2012 11:15 am

A hypothetical glimpse of their thoughts, “How can I fund my jet-setter life style and fund my attacks on those with jet-setter life styles that actually produce something with their lives. Must find another reason for people to give me money.”
Of course there are those that aren’t hypocritical, “Must destroy all technological progress since at least the industrial revolution and maybe destroy all humans or most, not me and my friends, we’re the good guys.”

December 26, 2012 11:17 am

I may be a bit of a cynic here, but I trust “search trend” figures about as much as I trust Twitter’s trending topics and Facebook likes. There is too much of an opportunity to inflate the figures through automated bots and click fraud-like activities.

December 26, 2012 11:21 am

I don’t think these trends are easy to interpret. Global warming has had less MSM coverage since the weather got colder. Fracking is a hot new NIMBY issue as well as an energy price issue.
Some much more detailed research on the search terms is needed. How often is the word ‘hoax’ associated with GW searches for example?
How often is a specific geographical location specified with searches on fracking?

Brian R
December 26, 2012 11:21 am

I’m sure the data Joshua Schneyer and Edward McAllister are using have been “homogenized” to correct any irregularities and then used as the input for a computer model to come to the results they have.
Then again, they are reporters. The only models they know are the ones they see in advertising.

Peter Miller
December 26, 2012 11:25 am

Fracking will soon be as important to the western world’s economies as the development of the internet and the rise of the Far East’s economies.
In the USA, you are lucky enough to realise this.
In western Europe, draconian restrictions (the UK) and outright bans (France, Bulgaria and some Germany states) are going to delay the huge, obvious and much needed boost to these economies.
In much of Europe and the UK, the econuts are in charge and, just like in ‘climate science’, will seize on any distorted, exaggerated and totally false argument to try and drive their economies into the ground. And in Asia, they just laugh and laugh.

Doug Proctor
December 26, 2012 11:34 am

Re: falling search statistics.
When a subject doesn’t change much, or when the reviewer gets up to his technical level of comfort, the reviewer stops checking. His focus changes but his position or interest does not necessarily change.
What can easily be,however, is that positions in the community have solidified. The warmist and the skeptic aren’t thinking about their positions any more. But so are the “neutrals”, the ones who feel the truth is somewhere in between the extremes, recognize the ravings from two directions, and, in some ways, cast a plague on both houses. Climategate is definitely a game changer, however (if correlation represents a causation).
Climategate made people take sides. The climategate perps were seen to be small people in their private moments. You had to decide whether Jones, Mann and others were passionate saviours or obnoxious tools of money and political corrrectness. Once that decision was made, there was little value to further thinking – the only thing that might happen is you’d weaken your own position by learning inconveniently. Our egos don’t like to do that. It feels like we made a mistake.
A low active involvement in climate change doesn’t mean you have no dogs in that particular fight. You need Proposition 13 type voting to determine that, some action that would come at a cost to you to fulfill what you believe to be “right” within your moral sense. If Congress and Obama push through legislation on climate change, though, it won’t mean the American people are on their side, but that the political powers believe that the RESULT of climate change legislation are in the COMBINED economic, moral and political interests of individuals AND the nation.
It would be better for the skeptical side to see several spikes of Google searches with consistent post-spike downward seaching.
Another, somewhat cynical thought: it is probable that the average person has only enough interest and energy to follow a couple issues at any given time (which is why a war is a great distraction from an economic failure of government). So what we really need is for something else to replace in the minds and hearts of the liberal middle class Caucasian the CAGW story.
Now if carbon taxes etc. could be shown, with the Uncertainty Principle in mind, that all 401K monies, all retirement funds and pensions would – at a 95% certainty level – collapse, we might have an issue with enough blood and guts in it to initiate a major rethink of the catastrophic global warming farce.
Seems a little extreme, even if possible.

Roger Knights
December 26, 2012 11:41 am

Reuters may be right, if they filtered the Google results to look only at US trends. Here’s the quote:

This year, for the first time, U.S. online searches for the term “fracking” became more popular than “climate change,” . . .

REPLY: Ah missed that. I’ve checked it out. Indeed it does for the USA, but not the world, see update. – Anthony

Bob B.
December 26, 2012 11:43 am

A more accurate comparison would be to add the results for “climate change” and “global warming” together and compare to “fracking”.

December 26, 2012 11:54 am

Many people in the U.S. (myself included) just want to know more about fracking and associated industries.
Google “proppants.”

December 26, 2012 12:33 pm

People may be searching for “fracking” just to find out where the jobs are. Besides, warmists have fractured the search results for global warming by inventing new names for it every few years. What would the search results be if you added all the results together for terms like global warming, climate change, climate disruption, extreme weather, global weirding, etc.?

December 26, 2012 12:40 pm

Fracking isn’t the real story here, but rather directional drilling in conjunction with fracking multiple times in the same hole. It really increases the surface area so more gas can be extracted from the formation.

Rattus Norvegicus
December 26, 2012 12:45 pm

Uh Anthony, the story is correct — US data did show fracking passing climate change and the story specified US searches.
REPLY ; uh, John Sully, apparently you missed my update . Anthony

December 26, 2012 1:07 pm

There’s no groundswell political trend, there’s a Hollywood movie funded by Middle East Oil Interests aimed at US Oil production.
Pure propaganda, with no “I’m A Middle Eastern Oil Producer Competing With American Oil Companies And I Support This Ad” disclaimer at the end.

Claude Harvey
December 26, 2012 1:12 pm

Using raw data is “bush league”. We’re dealing with climate change here! One must subject the data to “sophisticated statistical techniques” in order to tease out important signals otherwise lost in the noise and and which tell the tale one wishes to promulgate. If that desired tale does not emerge, alter the techniques until it does emerge. Whur’ you been, boy?

December 26, 2012 1:42 pm

Peter Miller says:
December 26, 2012 at 11:25 am
“In western Europe, draconian restrictions (the UK) and outright bans (France, Bulgaria and some Germany states) are going to delay the huge, obvious and much needed boost to these economies.”
Merkel declared a complete moratorium on fracking for the time being. No fracking projects ongoing in Germany. The federal minister for the environment has been replaced by a new one but the course stays the same : full steam ahead for wind turbines and solar panels.
Electricity prices keep exploding (so do coal imports from the US; an inevitable consequence of mandating inefficiency is an increased demand for raw materials).

michael hart
December 26, 2012 1:55 pm

True or not, does it mean anything? I doubt it.

December 26, 2012 2:07 pm

Reuters is involved in green agitprop anyway… Sir Crispin Tickell anyone?

December 26, 2012 2:51 pm

Well “fracking” has the hot new movie…with Gasland ll soon to be released.

December 26, 2012 3:56 pm

Betapug says:
December 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm
“Well “fracking” has the hot new movie…with Gasland ll soon to be released.”
Matt Damon, The Promised Land, financed by the UEA, to be specific.

R. de Haan
December 26, 2012 4:00 pm

Don’t worry. Multi Well Pad or “Octopus” is the “new fracking”. This means that fracking has already become an obsolete technology.

December 26, 2012 4:13 pm

Google search results:
Global Warming – 76,900,000 results
Climate Change – 120,000,000 results
Climate Disruption – 201,000 results
Combined terms equal to almost 200 million results.
Fracking – 14,800,000 results.
Conclusion: What a gas.

December 26, 2012 4:50 pm

“Not fully correct” is not fully correct. We all have bad days. Perhaps your initial Google search defaulted to global, or perhaps you missed the authors’ scope of “U.S.” Please just say you were wrong, and concentrate on why they being right doesn’t really matter.
REPLY: Sure, I was wrong for the reason you mention, I didn’t note that they referred to the US, as the language was a bit couched. Had the authors made source links like I do there wouldn’t be an issue, but they didn’t show their work, so there’s always a risk when that isn’t done. Though, there’s still some useful information in the post, which I why I updated it to reflect new data I became aware of. Notably that it is a U.S. issue but not a global issue and that the starting point seems to be around the time of Climategate. – Anthony

Jeff Alberts
December 26, 2012 7:07 pm

Justin Bieber – 649,000,000 results.
’nuff said.

Chuck Nolan
December 26, 2012 7:47 pm

Jeff Alberts says:
December 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm
Justin Bieber – 649,000,000 results.
’nuff said.
Obama 675 million

December 26, 2012 9:15 pm

And that’s what I like about you and your site Anthony. You are man enough to admit a mistake, you publicly correct it and your integrity is intact. Too bad a certain Mann is not man enough to admit his flaws. This is of course a mole hill compared to the mountain of a hockey stick….
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & never forget we common folk really appreciate the great info your site brings to the world.
Keep up the good fight.

December 26, 2012 9:19 pm

Astute observation – even though the amount of fracking clicks is not as many as climate change – the trend upward is important.
The why is more important after all why would the greens and UN faceless men and women fund the activists to shift to attacking fracking or cheap energy? The very thing that could pull the USA out of its financial problems! The answer to that is pretty obvious – keep as many on welfare as you can to maintain the voter base and keep the status quo. They also have more excuses for higher taxes on those nasty capitalists to pay off the faithful, whilst claiming to need it for welfare.
Sound familiar? Its already happened in Australia – the Gillard government pilot project to raise energy prices (using the global warming Trojan horse) has succeeded. They blame the suppliers etc, but everyone forgets, the higher the cost of energy, the more taxes (GST) go to the government – That’s in addition to their new petroleum rent tax and fuel tax on primary producers.

Jeff L
December 26, 2012 10:17 pm

All skeptics should be paying attention to these trend lines as it is something that could have real impact on everyone’s lives, in the form of more expensive fuels if the anti-fracking forces have their way.
As someone who has been in the exploration business for over 2 decades , the anti-fracking crowd’s ideas have even less scientific support than ideas of the CAGW crowd. The fact it has gained as much traction as it has , has left most in industry dumbfounded, as fracking in one form or another has been going on since the early days of the industry, almost without incident or problem. The refinement of the engineering of fracs over the last decade has led to a revolution in well productivity & resulted in drastically lower natural gas prices (and locally lower oil prices). As usual, the petroleum industry is good at finding & producing hydrocarbons, but not so much at PR. When criticism started to emerge on fracking from environmental groups, everyone just laughed because there is absolutely no real data to support their claims. By the time the industry realized this anti-fracking message was getting traction, it was too late & the public was already “drinking the anti-fracking kool-aid”, as evidenced by the trend in the presented graphs.
WUWT is absolutely a logic place to start fighting this “skeptics” battle on fracking. I know we have industry readers of this blog. If we had some engineers that could present data on fracking, how the process work, how we isolate the petroleum reservoirs from aquifers, data on # of fracs & lack of aquifer contamination, comparison to safety & environmental issues in other industries, the current regulatory environment we operate in, the societal costs vs societal benefits, etc, WUWT would be a good place to start de-bunking the “fracking is bad for the environment” myth, just as the CAGW myth has been de-bunked here for years. This is fundamentally an issue of science (and engineering). Just as CAGW, and as the trend lines in the graphs indicate, fracking may become the skeptical battle which needs to be fought for society’s benefit.
Anti-fracking rhetoric , just like CAGW rhetoric, is always made to seem as if it is a matter of science, The reality is that it is a purely political agenda, with those supporting these positions bastardizing the science in attempt to support their unsupportable position.
At the end of the day, it is society that loses – because they don’t trust science or scientists any more (nor should they, given the compromises made) and they lose economically, by the law makers making decision that hurt the economy on baseless science which they have promoted.
The irony of all of this is that cheap nat gas , due to fracking, is displacing coal as a source of electrical power gen in the US & helping the US be one of the only countries hitting Kyoto carbon reduction goals, despite not signing the treaty. I am sure that drives the environuts crazy !

Keith W.
December 26, 2012 10:39 pm

Also, the first mention I ever heard of the word “fracking” was not connected to the oil industry, but rather to the television show Battlestar Galactica, where the word was used in exchange for an expletive. BSG aired from 2004-09, and started to develop an audience outside the normal science fiction community as the Google numbers start to appear for the term. So there is more than one possible source for the fracking increase.

December 26, 2012 11:20 pm

I remember fracking from ~30 years ago (while working for a CO2 producer, Liquid Carbonic).

December 27, 2012 12:01 am

Keith W. says: December 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm
“BSG aired from 2004-09…”
– – –
The original series ran for one season in 1978–79.

December 27, 2012 2:35 am

Reuters is just being a good global alarmist soldier. How amny times do you deniers have to be told that it is the rate of change that matters (just as in the debunking of solar warming as an explanation)

December 27, 2012 2:50 am

REPLY ; uh, John Sully, apparently you missed just saw my update . Anthony
There, fixed it for you.

December 27, 2012 2:53 am

Dear Anthony
This is just not fair what you have done is superimposed Mann’s Hokey Cokey Stick on Global Temperatures for the last million years? You didn’t think we’d notice:-)

December 27, 2012 3:06 am

I’ve stayed very much in the background here in recent months, as my journeys of discovery have led me to issues I now consider to be even deeper than the deep corruption of climate science. If you look at the video “Thrive” you can see a lot of this including the climate science scam – but even this video has a couple characters whom I distrust though they look like sheep. It does however show the “follow the money” trail, and this includes not only the suppression of bona fide cancer cures, but also the suppression of the real energy solutions which would make wind, fracking, and nuclear-as-is totally redundant. There is a history of bumping people off who found out too much about alternative energies. Yet such energies are already being used – read Dr Judy Wood “Where did the towers go?” on “dustification” using magnetic processes. This is just an info notice, so please don’t start any comments here.
The challenge is to bring these topics up to awareness in a positive way. There is a growing realization, which I saw in pretty well every presentation and attender at the recent Breakthrough Energy Movement conference, that all this is a spiritual challenge, in which awakening, keeping integrity in one’s soul, and “nullius in verba” are three key aspects. Watch “Thrive” but don’t just “believe” it. Read the book “Breakthrough Power”. Happy surfing.

December 27, 2012 6:38 am

Let me see now, if I were dependent on the gravy train and here were a technology which would sharply reduce the amount of money flowing to “mitigate the effects of increasing CO2”, would I
1. Acknowledge to the world that the increased use of natural gas would make my predictions moot or at least buy centuries of time.
2. Attack the technology used to produce the hydrocarbon to keep the gravy train running.
I vote for #2.

December 27, 2012 6:40 am

IMO, “sustainability” will be the new CAGW replacement, itself a replacement for communist & fascist totalitarianisms, now that “climate change” (which captured environmentalism) has been added to the list of failed secular gods requiring child sacrifice.

December 27, 2012 11:33 am

For those who don’t know anything about the fracking story, here’s a quick primer. Hydraulic fracturing has been used for half a century. In the industry we call it a frack job, or fracking. The “new technology” was combining the old tech of fracking with horizontal drilling. Also, the ability to frack in multiple zones. So instead of a 40 ft. pay zone, you can have 3,000 ft. producing. Anyhow, the reporters glommed on to the slickster term “fracking” when reporting on the new developments in shale producing areas. Now the chuckleheads are running around complaining against this “new” fracking thing. It is somewhat humurous, though if they shut it down, it won’t be so funny. To put it in perspective, stack at least 5 empire state buildings on top of each other. At that depth is where the fracking takes place. It has absolutely no impact on surface water or aquifers. Any problems there are ALWAYS due to a bad cement job.

Gail Combs
December 27, 2012 1:00 pm

Doug Proctor says:
December 26, 2012 at 11:34 am
…..If Congress and Obama push through legislation on climate change, though, it won’t mean the American people are on their side, but that the political powers believe that the RESULT of climate change legislation are in the COMBINED economic, moral and political interests of individuals AND the nation……
Where ever did you ever get that “Disneyland” view of Congress and politics?
Congress is interested in THEIR OWN welfare and not that of the USA. As one Senator finally admitted Congress is bought and paid for.

Top Senate Democrat: bankers “own” the U.S. Congress
“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

One site commented “Congresswoman Maxine Waters is also known to have admitted that the banks “own the place” I can’t find the origin of the quote but she is now in a fight with the bankers link and link
Maxine Waters also lets slip the plans by the democrats to nationalize the oil companies prior to the election of Obama in 2008.

Gail Combs
December 27, 2012 1:03 pm

SC-SlyWolf says:
December 26, 2012 at 11:54 am
Many people in the U.S. (myself included) just want to know more about fracking and associated industries.
First patent was right after the Civil War. It is OLD technology with up-dates. Shooters – A “Fracking” History

Steve Thatcher
December 27, 2012 2:25 pm

DirkH says:
December 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm
Betapug says:
December 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm
“Well “fracking” has the hot new movie…with Gasland ll soon to be released.”
Matt Damon, The Promised Land, financed by the UEA, to be specific.
Just to avoid confusion, this is not the UEA (University of East Anglia), it should read UAE -United Arab Emirates.
Steve T

December 28, 2012 9:01 am

Steve Thatcher says:
December 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm
“Just to avoid confusion, this is not the UEA (University of East Anglia), it should read UAE -United Arab Emirates.”
Thanks!I noticed my typo but didn’t associate it with the University of East Anglia – psychomotoric memory probably. 🙂

December 29, 2012 10:25 pm

Well, in fact, to be seriously considered, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does CO2 — and it must offer some mechanism that counteracts the well-known warming effect of CO2. Not bloody likely.

Brian H
December 30, 2012 12:43 pm

Throwing rice up in the air and observing how it lands would fit the data as well as CO2-the-forcing-warming-variable. Once you get past primitive glass jar experiments, the real world interactions of CO2, the climate, and the biosphere have zero correlation to the projected trends, to several decimal places.

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