Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeConsider ThisA Really Big Graphic Gives Perspective On Earth's Temperature

A Really Big Graphic Gives Perspective On Earth’s Temperature

The average temperature on earth has always had its ups and downs. Changes in the tilt of the earth’s axis, volcanic activity, changes in solar activity and more have all helped make the planet warmer and colder over time. During the Paleocene Earth was so warm that crocodiles swam above the Arctic Circle. Just 20,000 years ago, it was so cold that thick glaciers covered Canada and about half of the United States.

Randall Munroe created this graphic to show us what the ice age would have looked like. Randall worked for NASA before quitting to become a full-time cartoonist translating science into more understandable graphics.

Usually scientists share that information about the Earth’s changing temperature in graphs that look like this:

If that’s as hard for you to relate to as it is for me, then you’ll probably like Randall Munroe’s illustration more. His timeline puts these temperature changes in perspective. To get you started, all the temperatures in the graph, whether colder or warmer are compared to the average temperature between 1961 and 1990. One degree Celsius is equal to almost 1.8 degrees Farenheit.




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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. Studying this timeline was informative and entertaining. I’d like to think that it could change the minds of most global warming deniers. As a scientist, I would have more confidence in the accuracy of the graph and be more willing to send it to others to see, if you can supply some references to reliable published reports that you used.

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