EARTH DAY 2017
Randall Munroe is a genius scientist/cartoonist. He is renowned the world over, amongst comic and cartoon buffs, as the artist behind xkcd.
Munroe combines his training as a physicist with his ability as an artist to simplify complex matters and present them in a way that even a child can understand.
Below, he has created a Climate History cartoon chart that measures global warming between -4 degrees and +4 degrees Celsius, beginning 20,000 years Before the Christian Era (BCE) and progressing to the present day. Back then the city of Boston was buried under a mile of ice.
Shortly after 9,000 BCE the temperature crosses the 0 degrees Celsius line, with rising seas cutting off the land bridge between North America and Asia. By 8,500 BCE cattle are domesticated. Around 8,000 BCE the temperatures began to level out, slightly above the 1961-1990 average levels. And they remain remarkably stable until around 3,000 BCE when temperatures begin to drop slightly until the 1,900s AD. After that, Munroe’s cartoon leaves little doubt that something dramatic has intervened as the rise of temperature is alarming and way outside the very gentle and gradual natural pendulum.
This is a cartoon to ponder. Along the way you’ll encounter the builders of Stonehenge (2500 BCE); Solomon (1000 BCE); Confucius (600 BCE); Jesus (1 CE); Buddha 500 (CE); Muhammad (600 CE); Ghengis Khan (1200 CE); Shakespeare (1600 CE) and many more.
When we reach the mid 1800s we encounter the Industrial Revolution, followed by, in the 1900s: Airplanes, World Wars, Nuclear Weapons, Internet, Fossil Fuel, and the rapid increase of CO2 Emissions. Beginning in 2016 Munroe projects three scenarios for a reduction in global temperatures by 2100: a “Best-Case Scenario assuming immediate, massive action to limit emissions”; a “Optimistic Scenario”, a slowing down of warming; and the third scenario – we continue towards catastrophe.
And suddenly we realise how prophetic ‘Laudato Si’ is and why Pope Francis told the American actor and environmentalist, Leonardo Di Caprio, to ‘pray for humanity’.
Following is a 10-minute journey through 22,000 years of history and the very gentle natural fluctuations of global temperatures until human activities dramatically intervened.