An xkcd semi-interactive timeline for global warming

There’s not much to say about this swell xkcd timeline of climate change over the last 22,000 years except that it’s fascinating and you can scroll though the long diagram to see what the temperatures were when.  It’s very long so I’ve just posted the top and bottom. Go to the original to see the fun (or rather, the impending doom).






And more recently:





  1. Curt
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Everyone should click through… by only viewing the beginning and end you miss the genius of this comic.

    The somewhat tedious journey from 20,000 BC to present calibrates the viewer to the normal rate of temperature change on the planet, only to be hit between the eyes with the rapid ‘hockey stick’ change of the last few decades.

    Puts the “temperature has changed before” retort in its place.

  2. Merilee
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink


  3. Merilee
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink


  4. ucsbalum
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Episyllogism.

  5. rickflick
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    They should make placemats out of this and throw a picnic for congressional deniers.

  6. Damien McLeod
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have anything to say about Dr. Gus McPherson and his theory’s and videos? Is he for real or is he a nut job. I really would like some else’s opinion on this, especially yours Dr. Coyne—or anyone else for that matter. What he’s saying is very frighting.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      His name is Guy McPherson
      I know little about him except:
      [1] Predicts human extinction by 2030 – this is a very extreme view
      [2] He appears in a number of different Who’s Who publications where you pay to get a listed
      [3] A lot of touring world wide speaking at well paid gigs
      [4] Able self-promoter
      [5] 14? books over the years
      [6] He is “GR McPherson” on academic papers. His expertise, judging from those papers is in a tight area of ecology to do with grasslands & land management & the like. No expertise on climate science at all. No expertise on how [for example] nations will respond politically, socially to reduced fresh water & dwindling agriculture

      I’m not inclined to pay him too much attention

      • Damien McLeod
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I know I misspelled his name, I have one of his books sitting here on my desk next to the computer, sorry, I’m somewhat dyslexic. Hitting the wrong is not uncommon for me.
        The 2030 date is not his, the people who do the 2030 videos on You Tube interviewed him and included him in one of their videos. His actual prediction is somewhere between the end of the decade and the end of the century. Still pretty radical though.
        I’ve never read a Who’s Who publication nor do I ever attend a gig where the speaker is paid to talk.
        However he’got lots of videos on YouTube, some of them an hour of more long, also a bunch of interviews, also on YouTube. As I said before his message is quite scary.
        Thank you responding to my query.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Youtube videos & blog posts are his main forums [fora?] – he dismisses climate science/scientists & cherry picks his data to paint the darkest picture possible

          That’s the conclusion I’ve reached having read more of his stuff & read more of his critics challenges to his use of selective data. From what I can see he’s not actually doing anything useful to effect change & he seems to be wallowing in his extinction narrative. I wonder who is attracted to his overly negative thesis?

          I think a psychologist could have a field day with Guy – he’s now a qualified grief counsellor since retiring from ‘doing’ science

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            … “affect”

          • Damien McLeod
            Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

            He certainly does seem rather gloomy.
            Thanks for the information.

  7. garthdaisy
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s really the same thing as Al Gore’s scissor-lift performance in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

    Both great demonstrations that will be widely ignored, sadly.

  8. chris moffatt
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    too bad he’s using a temperature record that is a little incorrect. Let’s see now; temperatures today higher than the roman warm period? Higher than the 1930s? Yeah maybe – if you’re using manipulated data sets from NOAA and HadCrut and relying on a hockey stick graph that has been shown to be bogus so that even the IPCC no longer quotes it.

    • kieran
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing you haven’t read chapter five of the fifth ipcc report

      from the references of chapter five, these are all papers that show a large uptick in temperature or the hockey stick.
      Mann, M. E., S. Rutherford, E. R. Wahl, and C. Ammann, 2007: Robustness of proxybased
      climate field reconstruction methods. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D12109.

      Mann, M. E., Z. H. Zhang, M. K. Hughes, R. S. Bradley, S. K. Miller, S. Rutherford, and
      F. B. Ni, 2008: Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface
      temperature variations over the past two millennia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.,
      105, 13252–13257.

      Mann, M. E., et al., 2009: Global signatures and dynamical origins of the Little Ice
      Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly. Science, 326, 1256–1260.

      Wahl, E., et al., 2010: An archive of high-resolution temperature reconstructions over
      the past 2+ millennia. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 11, Q01001.

      Wahl, E. R., and J. E. Smerdon, 2012: Comparative performance of paleoclimate field
      and index reconstructions derived from climate proxies and noise-only predictors.
      Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06703.

      Wahl, E. R., D. M. Ritson, and C. M. Ammann, 2006: Comment on “Reconstructing
      past climate from noisy data”. Science, 312, 529

      Even Dr Muller of Berkleley Earth ended up producing results similar to other data sets.

  9. rose
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Nice you put the internet with nuclear weapons and world wars.Exactly

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I remember in about 1999 there was a website that projected what the planet would look like in 2050 (I think that was the date) that got a lot of attention. It was completely ridiculous. It showed, for example, that we would be able to walk from NZ to Fiji.

    Its projections were based on a combination of climate change and plate tectonics. It accepted a high level of global warming, but thought sea levels would be lower in the Pacific due to earthquakes in the northern hemisphere making parts of the ocean significantly deeper and the water draining away from the South Pacific.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink


    That’s goddamn funny; I don’t care who you are.

    Nobody hits le joke juste quite like R. Munroe in xkcd.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I had to look up the trailer. Ya. That’s funny.

  12. John Harshman
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I like the Spinal Tap reference myself. (Hint: Stonehenge)

    • TJR
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      The new Stonehenge visitor centre has a wall of famous quotations about the place, including one from Nigel Tufnell.

  13. Jan
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure how we can be expected to take this seriously when he left out Creation at about 6000 BC and Noah’s Ark.

    Just saying.

    • Petu W.
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      But Solomon is mentioned! He is not a historical figure. But then again — neither is Asterix. Could it be that Solomon is meant to be a joke?

      Anyways, it’s a great piece of work!

  14. Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    This is a minor quibble, but considering the target audience it would have been more appropriate to use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. Not only would it have been in the temperature units they’re used to seeing, the numbers would have been larger.

    • Posted September 14, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately there’s the target audience of people who should learn these things (like various politicians in the US) and the target audience *for xkcd*, which is … well, I don’t know, but maybe natural science and computing people?🙂

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