Quantcast

'Brilliant' Climate Change Cartoon Goes Viral After Elon Musk, John Green Share It on Twitter

Popular

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 about page:

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Ice-rich permafrost has been exposed due to coastal erosion, National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska. Brandt Meixell / USGS


By Jake Johnson

An alarming study released Tuesday found that melting Arctic permafrost could add nearly $70 trillion to the global cost of climate change unless immediate action is taken to slash carbon emissions.

According to the new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, melting permafrost caused by accelerating Arctic warming would add close to $70 trillion to the overall economic impact of climate change if the planet warms by 3°C by 2100.

Read More Show Less
Jeff Reed / NYC Council

The New York City Council on Thursday overwhelmingly passed one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative packages ever considered by any major city to combat the existential threat of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Ghazipur is a neighborhood in East Delhi. It has been one of the largest dumping site for Delhi. India is one of many countries where global warming has dragged down economic growth. Frédéric Soltan / Corbis / Getty Images

Global inequality is worse today because of climate change, finds a new study published Monday by Stanford University professors Noah Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
A child playing with a ball from planet earth during Extinction Rebellion rally on April 18 in London, England. Brais G. Rouco / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Earth Day 2019 just passed, but planning has already begun for Earth Day 2020, and it's going to be a big deal.

Read More Show Less
Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair & A Spare / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Is your closet filled with clothes you don't wear (and probably don't like anymore)? Are you buying cheap and trendy clothing you only wear once or twice? What's up with all the excess? Shifting to a more Earth-conscious wardrobe can help simplify your life, as well as curb fast fashion's toll on people and the planet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Christine Zenino / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting six times faster than it was in the 1980s, which is even faster than scientists thought, CNN reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
The 18th century St. Catherine of Alexandria church is seen after its bell tower was destroyed following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the town of Porac, pampanga province on April 23. TED ALJIBE / AFP / Getty Images

At least 16 people have died, 81 are injured and 14 are still missing after an earthquake struck Luzon island in the Philippines Monday, according to the latest figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as the Philippine Star tweeted Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Climate change activists gather in front of the stage at the Extinction Rebellion group's environmental protest camp at Marble Arch in London on April 22, on the eighth day of the group's protest calling for political change to combat climate change. TOLGA AKMEN / AFP / Getty Images

Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less