Annals of Global Warming: XKCD explains warming over the eons

September 13, 2016

XKCD often makes us think; the strip’s forays into science and social policy often rank near the top of my personal list of salient and clear educational devices on tough issues.

Here’s a timeline of Earth’s average atmospheric temperature, going back a few years before your mother was born (though she was born a long, long time ago!).

See where this is headed? No one else has done it much better.

I did wonder when I saw this earlier, on September 12: Did the creator of XKCD learn this stuff in Edward Tufte’s course?

Earth Temperature Timeline, From XKCD, September 2016

Earth Temperature Timeline, From XKCD, September 2016


Ice sheets thick as a denialist’s head

August 25, 2014

Cartoonist Randall Munroe at XKCD demonstrates ice age issues.

Of course it was a cartoonist. Where else does one go to find the truth these days, but the cartoons?

XKCD dramatically shows differences in North American cities and their relationship with their local ice sheets, 21,000 years ago.

XKCD dramatically shows differences in North American cities and their relationship with their local ice sheets, 21,000 years ago. Cartoon by Randall Munroe.

Enric Sala wrote about our disappearing ice for the World Economic Forum — a post worth reading.

Twenty kilometres in 20 years. That’s how much the Ilulissat glacier has retreated as this mighty, flowing river of ice crumbles into the ocean. It sounds like a lot. But I did not fully realize what this meant until we flew over the Ilulissat icefjord. It takes 10 minutes for the helicopter to fly over the amount of ice that has been lost because of global warming – in this glacier alone.

The speed at which the glacier moves has doubled relative to that in 1998. My scientist brain, accustomed to working with numbers and large scales, had a hard time absorbing this information. If I was rationally aware of the consequences of global warming from scientific reports before, now I felt it emotionally. This is what my trip to Greenland with a group of World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders did to us. It made us move from knowing and caring to be desperate to do something about it.

The experience also made us realize that all the international negotiations and agreements to date are not going to help avert the imminent catastrophe. Not even the boldest targets to reduce carbon pollution put forward by the smartest nations are going to move the dial. It’s all an illusion of movement, kind of like Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen, running and running but not going anywhere.

Truth on ice.

There is a difference, though.  Ice thins, gets weaker, and covers less area.  As that happens, as the planet warms, the density of denialists does not appear to decrease, at least not fast, and not toward greater understanding and less insanity.

The climate warmed, and I didn’t speak up, because I was not a cloud . . .

August 12, 2013

Another cartoon on climate change denialism, and the bizarre logic some denialists use — no apologies made to Niemoller at XKCD’s site:

XKCD cartoon, by Randall Munroe

[It appears that the word “denialism” triggers WordPress software to suggest “Fox News” as a topic.]


XKCD debunks claims of the Moon landing hoax

June 28, 2012

Kenny’s right — this is a pretty good debunking of the Moon landing hoax hoax.  Good old XKCD:

XKCD debunking of Moon landing hoax claims

With debunking this clever, don’t you think this strip is one you should read every day?

Grateful tip of the old scrub brush, to Kenny Darrell in the wilds of darkest Connecticut.


Cropped from Image:AldrinFlag2.jpeg (now calle...

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (Cropped from Image:AldrinFlag2.jpeg (now called Image:NASA AS-11-40-5875.jpg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neutrinos and the speed of light

September 24, 2011

As usual, XKCD makes sense of unbelievable news:

XKCD and the neutrinos faster-than-the-speed-of-light thing

Click to see original at XKCD

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