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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #31

Posted on 5 August 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

A History of Global Warming, In Just 35 Seconds

Last year, there was the temperature spiral. This year, it’s the temperature circle that’s making the trend of global warming crystal clear.

A new video shows the rhythm of global warming for countries around the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Bars representing each country’s annual average temperature anomaly pulse up and down. It's like watching a heartbeat on a monitor.

Rather than staying steady like a normal heartbeat, it’s clear that temperatures for more than 100 countries are climbing ever higher on the back of increasing carbon pollution. While there are individual variations in how hot any year is, the signal of climate change is unmistakable.

“There are no single countries that clearly stand out from the graph,” said Antti Lipponen, a physicist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute who made the graphic. “The warming really is global, not local.”

While the temperature spiral showed the global average temperature, Lipponen’s animation uses NASA data to show individual countries separated by regions. The format invites you to look for your country or the place you took your vacation last year.

But step back to look at the graphic as a whole and it’s clear we’re all in this together. No country is immune from rising temperatures, let alone the other impacts of climate change.

It’s also clear that global warming is accelerating. In the past three decades (which starts around the 14-second mark in the video), the bars start pushing further and further from the center. Cooler-than-normal years start to become more rare and by the 1990s, they’ve almost disappeared completely.

The past three years have been the hottest ones ever recorded. A number of countries were more than 2°C warmer than the 1951-1980 baseline used in the graphic. That puts them well above the warming limit enshrined in the Paris Agreement, serving as a warning of how fast we’re pushing into new territory.

The world itself touched 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for a few months in 2016. If global warming permanently crosses that threshold, it will likely cause small island states to be swallowed by the sea, coral to die and heat waves to become more common and severe.

Those numbers alone are abstract, though. Even plotted on a line graph, they fail to fully convey the trajectory we’re on.

Lipponen said he made the animation because he wanted a “nice looking, clear, and informative” way to convey that information in a way people can understand. Mission accomplished.

A History of Global Warming, In Just 35 Seconds by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Aug 2, 2017

Links posted on Facebook

Sun July 30 2017

Mon July 31 2017

Tue Aug 1 2017

Wed Aug 2 2017

Thu Aug 3 2017

Fri Aug 4 2017

Sat Aug 5 2017

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Comments 1 to 16:

  1. The link to "Earth to warm 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, studies say" by Ashley Strickland, CNN, isn't working.  I found it here.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Glitch fixed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  2. Regarding the animation in the video.

    It appears that the animation slows down at the end giving an (false) emphasis to the warmer few years at the end of the sequence. Not good IMO.

    A visualisation shouldn't need to to that, especially if it supposed to be scientifically accurate.

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  3. "giving an (false) emphasis to the warmer few years at the end of the sequence"

    What, you mean the warmest years on record?

    How's this, then, for scientific accuracy?


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  4. The animation doesn't really slow down just at the end. It appears to me to start slowing down from about 1980.

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  5. nigelj @4,

    It is perhaps best to say that the animation "stops" at the end and as you point out, that the slowing begins at about 1980 where the rate of passing decades drops from every two seconds to every three seconds. The rate further drops again from 2000 where it drops to a decade in four seconds. This post-2000 slowing could be argued, less as "an (false) emphasis to the warmer few years at the end of the sequence" and more as suggestive of a 'false slowdown' in the warming - and that is something usually getting a scientific thumbs-down when it occurs, it being not "scientifically accurate."

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  6. Paul D@2 said: "giving an (false) emphasis to the... years at the end of the sequence"  You mean the present?  As creatures caught in time, we view the present more emphatically than the past.  The animation recognizes this, and compensates for it.

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  7. Hey back off folks.

    I am the developer of three of the interactive visualisations on this site.

    1. Interactive History of Climate Science
    2. History of Climate Science (interactive timeline)
    3. The Consensus Project

    The history of global warming animation on Youtube does not maintain the same time interval for the years from begining to end, that would be fine if that change was clearly stated, but it is not.
    We criticise skeptics continously for doctoring data and graphs to emphasise their beliefs.
    We shouldn't be doing something like it ourselves.

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  8. Re: My comment at 7.

    'Interactive History of Climate Science' has been removed.
    'The Consensus Project' visualisation is broken! The timeline slider doesn't work.

    Been a while since I last checked them out. If anyone wants me to fix the The Consensus Project visualisation please email me.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Requesting someone follow up to you.

  9. Paul (@8) - The Interactive History of Climate Science is still there and working AFAICT. It's also still listed on the resource menu but should also be added to the resource page where I just saw that it's not listed.

    The Consensus Project visualisation works as it should - the slider just doesn't work when it's too close to the bottom of the screen but that happens with other buttons in that area as well. Scrolling the page up a bit will make it work.

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  10. BaerbelW@9

    I have tried the The Consensus Project visualisation in Firefox and Chrome and none of the SVG graphics interaction works. The only thing that does work are the drop down menus, which are HTML.

    It doesn't seem to matter where on screen the slider and other graphics are.

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  11. With regard to the video, I started determining the number of years in each five second interval.  That made it look like there were two inflection points, which I then checked with the results below:

    1900-1950 (9 seconds; 0.18 sec/year)

    1951-2000 (13 seconds; 0.26 sec/year)

    2001-2016 (6 seconds; 0.38 sec/year)

    That will not be precise, but from the evidence, the inflection point is closer to 1950 than 1980.  Indeed, I initially checked a 1960 initial inflection points, which was falsified.  So, Paul D's obserservation was correct.

    I am not so certain the criticism is.  First, it is not the case that strictly linear scales are used on all graphs.  Log or exponential scales are quite normal in scientific use.  They are used, among other reasons, to allow details that would otherwise be missed to be apparent.  Arguably the more rapid rate of change in the second half of the 20th century, and again since 2000 (with the last few years of data) require the extra time to appreciate the changes.

    Second, it is also arguable that by changing the rate, the graph gives a false impression of a reduced temperature trend at the end of the series.  That is, the change of rate, down plays the rate of warming even as it increases the focus on the warmest years.  IMO any effect to either direction is removed by the inclusion of the graph of Global Mean Surface Temperature which.  That, I take it, is Daniel Bailey's point.

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  12. It is interesting that our various 'thunbnail' analyses have identified wildly differing timings for points of inflection in the rate of the passing years in the video.

    Ignoring the unreasoned call to "back off" @7, I note from a more thorough analysis that the sequence of years-per-second through the video as:-

    5 5 5 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 5 4 3 4 4 4 3 3 3 2 3 2 3 2 2

    This is not the smoothest of sequences but if there is an arguable inflection point it is very early, in the 1920s or 1930s. From that point, the rate of passing years per second is reducing pretty-much in a linear fashion (-0.145y/sec).

    On that basis I would state (with a little more assertion) that the criticisms set out here by PaulD @2 are ill-founded as it is entirely incorrect to state "the animation slows down at the end." The animation slows down pretty-much throughtout.

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  13. I contacted Antti Lipponen who created the graphic to ask about the animation slowing down towards the end. Here is his response:

    "...When I was creating the video my idea was to emphasize the most recent years so that is why I made slower in the end. This was not done in particular to emphasize the recent warming but to emphasize where we are at the moment. I thought general public would be more interested in current state of the climate than the early 1900's. ..."

    "And regardless of what data would have shown as temperatures I would have done the same selection and slowed it down in the end."

    Hope this clarifies things!

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  14. Tom@11

    "I am not so certain the criticism is. First, it is not the case that strictly linear scales are used on all graphs. Log or exponential scales are quite normal in scientific use."

    True, but such graphs should be clearly marked. The animation should indicate that the time base isn't linear.

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  15. MA Rodger @12

    Yes it clearly does slow down from quite early on now that you  have measured it. Interesting because I thought it might be slowing from about 1950 or before, I but wasn't sure. 1980 was when I felt certain. I suppose this is just how my visual perception works. 

    I felt the designer of the animation might have been trying to highlight the "modern" post 1970s warming period as Tom pointed out, and also perhaps the regional differences in rates recently, with all the red ink towards europe and asia.

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  16. The whole animation timing thing raises the issue is slowing things down to highlight a particular period a clarification or potential bias or manipulation? Hard to say, and people probably will never agree especially the climate denialists.

    I like Pauls suggestion. Labelling the graph as time isn't linear is a very good way of resolving the issue. Nobody can claim deceit then.

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