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A Really Big Graphic Gives Perspective On Earth’s Temperature

By   /  January 23, 2017  /  3 Comments

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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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  • Published: 4 years ago on January 23, 2017
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  • Last Modified: January 24, 2017 @ 11:25 pm
  • Filed Under: Consider This

About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Paul Sharpe says:

    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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