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How Paris got trumped

Speed read
  • Paris Climate Agreement promised aggressive action to offset runaway climate change
  • US was set to reduce emissions by 28 percent by 2025 
  • Instead, President Trump reneges on US promise to participate

In light of the dismaying and yet unsurprising decision by the current occupant of the Oval office to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, we thought it might be instructive to revisit some of the best illustrations of global warming and its most likely cause.

Spiraling out of control?

So let's go back over this.

One. More. Time.

Global gyrations

There are scientific visualizations and then are ones that work. The ones Ed Hawkins does just work.

Hawkins is associate professor of climate variability at the University of Reading. He makes vizzies that demonstrate a number of climate change related trends through simple, straightforward, and irrefutable means: Spirals. 

For instance, the spirals on the right here show how global temperatures have been been steadily rising, with a sharp acceleration in recent decades.

Keep this spiral graph handy if you ever find yourself needing to prove the existence of global warming.

Thanks Ed!


If you're looking for a more sardonic perspective on the end of a habitable climate, xkcd has some fun takes on the stark shift in world temperature.

Hasn't the climate changed before?

These comics inject a little gallows humor into what's increasingly a decidedly unfunny topic, especially given the US decision to leave the international agreement.

But perhaps maintaining a sense of humor will bring some seriousness to the issue.

Since so much effort is being put into climate denial, it may require a comic strip to reach people who still refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus.

Teaching the controversy

So  maybe you don’t doubt the rising global temps (about 1.8º F since 1880), but question the cause behind it. Is it the sun? Maybe deforestation? How about ozone pollution?

What's driving the heating climate? Several causes have been offered to explain rising global temperatures. Only one explanation meets the evidence. Visualization courtesy Roston and Migliozzi; climate data courtesy NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Thankfully, we can find answers to all of these in one handy animated infographic courtesy of Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi. 

As Roston and Migilozzi helpfully illustrate, neither solar activity, volcanoes, air pollution, nor deforestation can account for the dramatic spike in temperature recorded across the globe.

Even taken together, these stimuli wouldn't have netted anything approaching the observed warming.

So what's to account for the heating planet? For the answer, see the original version in Bloomberg here. (Spoiler alert: It's C02)

Paris Climate Agreement

For these reasons, world leaders from 195 countries came together on December 12, 2015.

The agreement was the first time world leaders had joined together to acknowledge that the threat of climate change is “urgent and potentially irreversible” and can only be addressed through “deep reductions in global emissions.”

The central goal of the agreement is to hold the increase in average global temperatures this century to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.Slouching toward Bethlehem.

The agreement requires all countries to put forth their best efforts, but allows each nation to outline its own plan.

On behalf of the US, President Obama pledged to cut emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025.

However, on June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the US would be reneging on it's promise to abide by the terms of the Paris Agreement.

As Hawkins spirals indicate, this increase is going to continue.

Given the amount the US contributes to global C02levels,  the Paris Agreement was the planet’s best hope of putting a brake on this careening climate catastrophe.

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