Is this the best way yet to tell the global warming story?

A British professor has come up with a novel way to show how the world has warmed over the past century. ‘Climate stripes’ shows our planet’s warming story in one simple graphic.

How the world has warmed
How the world has warmed over the last century. Blue indicates cooler years, red hotter years. Image: #ShowYourStripes

One of the biggest problems with global warming has been the failure of science to communicate to ordinary people that it is actually happening, let alone what can be done about it.

But a professor from the United Kingdom has come up with a way to show global warming in a single, powerful image.

“Climate Stripes” is a colour coded visualisation of our warming planet from the year 1901 to 2018. Data on the website Show Your Stripes enables people to see how their own countries have warmed over the last century or so. They can download the image, which has been printed by fans of the site on garments from t-shirts and dresses to ties and hoodies.

The colour blue represents cooler years and red warmer years, on a chart that shows how dramatically the world has heated up over time, with warming having accelerated in recent years in line with rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is the how the world has warmed over the last century or so.

The world’s warming history, from 1901 to 2018. Temperature relative to the average for the whole period. Image: #ShowYourStripes

Here’s how the United States, the world’s largest economy, has warmed since 1901.

How the United States has warmed from 1901 to 2018. Image: #ShowYourStripes

And here’s the warming story for China, the world’s largest carbon emitter.

How China has warmed from 1901 to 2018. Image: #ShowYourStripes

And here’s India’s 117-year warming history.

How India has warmed from 1901 to 2018. Image: #ShowYourStripes

And Singapore’s history of warming.

How Singapore has warmed from 1901 to 2018. Image: #ShowYourStripes

The ‘Show Your Stripes’ project is the work of Prof Ed Hawkins from Reading University, who came up with the idea after playing with data from the world’s major meteorological agencies collated by Berkeley Earth, an American non-profit set up to address the concerns of global warming skeptics.

Prof Hawkins told BBC News: “What I’ve learnt from this is that you don’t need the numbers to get the message across. The colours will do that.”

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