The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
'Brilliant' Climate Change Cartoon Goes Viral After Elon Musk, John Green Share It on Twitter
Earth's rapidly changing climate is often depicted with highly precise graphs or a detailed scientific explanation. But in Randall Munroe's latest xkcd webcomic, climate change is simply and hilariously explained with stick figures.
"A Timeline Of Earth's Average Temperature" is going viral xkcd
Munroe is your classic, multi-hyphenate wonder—a cartoonist-physicist-former NASA roboticist. He's also incredibly self-deprecating, as he writes on his
I'm just this guy, you know? I'm a CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, I worked on robots at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. As of June 2007 I live in Massachusetts. In my spare time I climb things, open strange doors, and go to goth clubs dressed as a frat guy so I can stand around and look terribly uncomfortable. At frat parties I do the same thing, but the other way around.
Munroe has expertly tackled climate change in a previous comic. His latest illustration covers a huge swath of time from the last Ice Age in 20,000 BCE to current day and beyond. As Munroe writes, the comic shows what it means when people say, "the climate has changed before."
The drawings and captions depict significant earthly milestones, from humanity's spread across the continents to the extinction of the saber tooth tiger. A number of historical figures also make appearances, such as Gilgamesh, Buddha, Shakespeare and even the last North American Pokémon ("that is not a real fact"). All the while, the temperature accelerates from cool-blue on the left side to red-hot, record-breaking heat on the right.
For those of us who believe in climate change, the post has some great chuckles along the way as you scroll down the strip, like the mention of 300 BCE that's like the movie "but regular speed and with more clothing." But once you hit the ominous temperature curve at the bottom, it's a sobering reminder that we all must act soon before carbon emissions hit the point of no return.
The post is going viral on social media with a number of high-profile Twitter users lauding the comic. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted about it on Tuesday morning.
It's a fitting tweet from Musk. The clean energy advocate
once said we must "fight the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry which is unrelenting and enormous."
Author, Vlogbrother and Nerdfighter, John Green, called the comic "brilliant." Fun fact, the Fault in Our Stars writer once interviewed President Barack Obama about climate change and the most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions.
Gamer and internet icon Felicia Day also had
similar words for the illustration.
Politicians are also getting into the mix. Here's a tweet from Denis Richard McDonough, the current White House chief of staff.
Finally, here's a tweet from Dr. Katherine (Katie) Mack, an astrophysicist based at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who was dubbed a "science shero" by Women in the World last month after being trolled and expertly responding to a climate-change denier on Twitter. Maybe she can use this comic next time to hit back at climate deniers.
See the full comic here or below.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.