By Iman Ghosh
- From 1880, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 0.07°C every decade.
- Evidence shows that key historical developments such as industrial revolutions contributed significantly to global warming.
- These events are linked to the mass burning of fossil fuels to meet an increase in human demand.
For several years now, average surface temperatures have consistently surpassed 1.5°C above their pre-industrial values. Visual Capitalist<p>Since 1880, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 0.07°C (0.13°F) every decade. That number alone may seem negligible, but over time, it adds up.</p><p>In addition, the rate of temperature change has grown significantly more dramatic over time—more than doubling to 0.18°C (0.32°F) since 1981. As a result of this global warming process, environmental crises have become the most <a href="https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualized-a-global-risk-assessment-of-2021-and-beyond/" target="_blank">prominent risks</a> of our time.</p><p>In this global temperature graph, climate data scientist <a href="https://twitter.com/neilrkaye/status/1349771090403454993" target="_blank">Neil R. Kaye</a> breaks down how monthly average temperatures have changed over nearly 170 years. Temperature values have been benchmarked against pre-industrial averages (1850–1900).</p>
What is Causing Global Warming?<p>The data visualization can be thought of in two halves, each reflecting significant trigger points in global warming trends:</p><ul><li>1851-1935<br>Overlaps with the Second Industrial Revolution<br>Low-High range in global temperature increase: -0.4°C to +0.6°C</li></ul><ul><li>1936-2020<br>Overlaps with the Third Industrial Revolution<br>Low-High range in global temperature increase: +0.6°C to +1.5°C and up</li></ul><p>The global temperature graph makes it clear that for several years now, average surface temperatures have consistently surpassed 1.5°C above their pre-industrial values. Let's dig into these time periods a bit more closely to uncover more context around this phenomenon.</p>
Industrial Revolutions and Advances, 1851–1935<p>An obvious, early anomaly on the visual worth exploring occurs between 1877–1878. During this time, the world experienced <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2183901-a-freak-1870s-climate-event-caused-drought-across-three-continents/" target="_blank">numerous</a> unprecedented climate events, from a strong El Niño to widespread droughts. The resulting Great Famine caused the deaths of between 19–50 million people, even surpassing some of the <a href="https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/" target="_blank">deadliest pandemics</a> in history.</p><p>In the first five rows of the global temperature graph, several economies progressed into the Second Industrial Revolution (~1870–1914), followed by World War I (1914-1918). Overall, there was a focus on steel production and mass-produced consumer goods over these 80+ years.</p><p>Although these technological advances brought immense improvements, they came at the cost of burning fossil fuels — releasing significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It would take several more decades before scientists realized the full extent of their accumulation in the atmosphere, and their resulting relation to global warming.</p>
The Modern World in the Red Zone, 1936–2020<p>The second half of the global temperature graph is marked by World War II (1939-1945) and its aftermath. As the dust settled, nations began to build themselves back up, and things really kicked into hyperdrive with the Third Industrial Revolution.</p><p>As globalization and trade progressed following the 1950s, people and goods began moving around more than ever before. In addition, population growth peaked at <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population" target="_blank">2.1% per year</a> between 1965 and 1970. Industrialization patterns began to intensify further to meet the demands of a rising global population and our modern world.</p>
The Importance of Historical Temperature Trends<p>The history of human development is intricately linked with global warming. While part of the rise in Earth's surface temperature can be attributed to natural patterns of climate change, these historical trends shed some light on how much human activities are behind the rapid increase in global average temperatures in the last 85 years.</p><p>The following graph from Reddit user <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/ickvfq/oc_two_thousand_years_of_global_temperatures_in/g234slz/" target="_blank">bgregory98</a>, which leverages an extensive data set published in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6675609/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nature Geoscience</a> provides a more dramatic demonstration. It looks at the escalation of global temperatures over two thousand years. In this expansive time frame, eight of the top 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the last decade alone.</p>
This graph looks at the dramatic escalation of global temperatures over 2000 years. Visual Capitalist<p><span>Click </span><a href="https://www.visualcapitalist.com/global-temperature-graph-1851-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a><span> to view the full graph animation.</span></p><p>Global warming and climate change are some of the most pressing <a href="https://www.visualcapitalist.com/climate-change-resource-scarcity-shaping-the-future/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">megatrends</a> shaping our future. However, with the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the reduction of global carbon emissions highlighted as a key item at the World Economic Forum's Davos Summit 2021, promising steps are being taken.</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/global-warming-climate-change-historical-human-development-industrial-revolution/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>. </em></span></p>
By Helen McGregor, Joelle Gergis, Nerilie Abram and Steven Phipps
In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, no one would have thought that their burning of fossil fuels would have an almost immediate effect on the climate. But our new study, published Wednesday in Nature, reveals that warming in some regions actually began as early as the 1830s.
That is much earlier than previously thought, so our discovery redefines our understanding of when human activity began to influence our climate.
Britain's industrial pioneers couldn't have known how they would affect the climate. Henry Gastineau
Determining when global warming began and how quickly the planet has warmed since then, is essential for understanding how much we have altered the climate in different parts of the world. Our study helps to answer the question of whether our climate is already operating outside thresholds that are considered safe for human society and functional ecosystems.
Our findings show that warming did not develop at the same time across the planet. The tropical oceans and the Arctic were the first regions to begin warming, in the 1830s. Europe, North America and Asia followed roughly two decades later.
Surprisingly, the results show that the southern hemisphere began warming much later, with Australasia and South America starting to warm from the early 20th century. This continental-scale time lag is still evident today: while some parts of Antarctica have begun to warm, a clear warming signal over the entire continent is still not detectable.
The warming in most regions reversed what would otherwise have been a cooling trend related to high volcanic activity during the preceding centuries.
By pinpointing the date when human-induced climate change started, we can then begin to work out when the warming trend broke through the boundaries of the climate's natural fluctuations, because it takes some decades for the global warming signal to "emerge" above the natural climate variability.
According to our evidence, in all regions except for Antarctica, we are now well and truly operating in a greenhouse-influenced world. We know this because the only climate models that can reproduce the results seen in our records of past climate are those models that factor in the effect of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by humans.
These remarkable findings were pieced together from the most unusual of sources—not thermometers or satellites, but rather from natural climate archives. These include coral skeletons, ice cores, tree rings, cave deposits and ocean and lake sediment layers, all of which record the climate as they grow or accumulate.
These archives provide long records that extend back 500 years—well before the Industrial Revolution—and provide a critical baseline for the planet's past climate, one that is impossible to obtain otherwise.
Corals can help reveal the climate of centuries past, long before weather records began.Eric Matson / AIMS
But why is there no clear warming fingerprint yet seen across Antarctica? The answer most likely lies in the vast Southern Ocean, which isolates the frozen continent from the warming happening elsewhere.
The westerly winds that circulate through the Southern Ocean around Antarctica keep warm air masses from lower latitudes at bay. Ozone depletion and rising greenhouse gas concentrations during the 20th century have also caused this wind barrier to get stronger.
The Southern Ocean currents that flow around Antarctica also tend to move warmer surface waters away from the continent, to be replaced with cold deeper water that hasn't yet been affected by surface greenhouse warming. This process could potentially delay Antarctica's warming by centuries.
The delay in warming observed in the rest of the southern hemisphere is something we do not yet fully understand. It could simply be because fewer records are available from the southern hemisphere, meaning that we still don't have a full picture of what is happening.
Alternatively, like Antarctica, the southern hemisphere's oceans could be holding back warming—partly through winds and currents, but perhaps also because of "thermal inertia", whereby the ocean can absorb far more heat energy than the atmosphere or the land before its temperature markedly increases. Bear in mind that the southern half of the globe has much more ocean than the north.
Essentially, then, the coolness of the southern hemisphere's vast oceans could be "insulating" Australasia and South America from the impact of global warming. The question is, for how long?
If our evidence of delayed warming in the southern hemisphere holds true, it could mean we are in in for more climate surprises as global warming begins to overcome the thermal inertia of our surrounding oceans. Could the recent record warming of Australian waters and the subsequent damage to the Great Barrier Reef, be an early sign that this is already occurring?
Recent research suggest that the mass bleaching event of the reef was made 175 times more likely by climate change. Following the recent severity of such extremes, a better understanding of how anthropogenic greenhouse warming is already impacting the southern hemisphere is critical.
NOAA: World's Worst Coral Bleaching Event to Continue 'With No Signs of Stopping' https://t.co/34Rir4R35S @TheCCoalition @CarbonBrief— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1466588414.0
What to Do About It
Leading scientists from around the world met in Geneva last week to discuss the goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5C—the more ambitious of the two targets enshrined in the Paris climate agreement.
Last year, global temperatures crossed the 1C threshold, and 2016 is on track to be 1.2-1.3C above our climate baseline.
But here's the kicker. That baseline is relative to 1850–1900, when most of our thermometer-based temperature records began. What our study shows is that for many parts of the world that estimate isn't good enough, because global warming was already under way, so the real baseline would be lower.
The small increases in greenhouse gases during the 19th century had a small effect on Earth's temperatures, but with the longer perspective we get from our natural climate records we see that big changes occurred. These fractions of a degree of extra warming might seem insignificant at first, but as we nudge ever closer to the 1.5C guardrail (and potentially beyond), the past tells us that small changes matter.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
Delta-8 THC is a cannabis product that has become a bestseller over the past few months, as many consumers find they can legally purchase it from CBD retailers. Its proponents say that Delta-8 THC will give you a nice little buzz, minus some of the more intense feelings (including paranoia) that are sometimes associated with marijuana.
Delta-8 THC is being marketed as a legal option for consumers who either don't live in a state with legal cannabis, or are a little apprehensive about how traditional psychoactive THC products will affect them. But is it all it's cracked up to be? Let's take a closer look, exploring what Delta-8 THC is, how it differs from other THC products, and whether it's actually legal for use.
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