Climate change might not be all that bad. Science says it’s behind a surge in home runs
While climate change has obvious growing impacts on the environment, it’s also potentially adding excitement to America’s pastime, as warmer temperatures across the globe are leading to roughly 50 extra home runs per season in the past several years.
A new study from researchers at Dartmouth College published Friday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society analysed data concerning 100,000 Major League Baseball games and 220,000 batted balls – and found since the 2010 season, warmer temperatures have been causing at least 500 home runs.
The results are surprising but baseball has long been influenced by the changing environment. Quite famously, baseballs have flown out of Coors Field with ease as high altitudes bring thinner air.
The study offers the latest example of how the climate emergency could change recreation in the future.
The researchers found that since the average temperature is now warmer than what it was a decade ago, baseball games are now often played in thinner air. Therefore, baseballs now experience less resistance while flying through the air, making them travel faster.
MLB has been seeing a surge in home runs in recent years, enough that the league in a controversial move used different types of baseballs in a single season to dampen the offence, at times without letting the players or the public know until it was reported by media outlets.
Nevertheless, the researchers acknowledged that the global warming factor isn’t all that powerful as they account for just one percent of the long balls. Compared to climate change, certain other factors such as different baseballs, stronger batters, and faster pitches have a greater influence on home runs, they added.
But global warming is likely to have a larger impact in the future, as the researchers attributed a potential 192 extra home runs per season by 2050 and 467 by the end of the century to warmer temperatures. Every one-degree Celsius rise in temperature prompts a 2% increase in the number of home runs per game, the Dartmouth study found.
In order to reverse or mitigate the trend, MLB needs to organise its games in a domed, climate-controlled stadium as such places are known to reduce the impact of temperature by considerable amounts.