Earth Temperature Timeline, Explained

XKCD #1732: Earth Temperature Timeline. And a hat tip to the explain xkcd wiki. This is a big chart, and I, for one, appreciate that the crowd has developed an explanation. Read it.

The topic of this post is infographics, not climate change, but while we’re on that subject I’ll admit I have at least two climate change deniers in my family. I’m to the left of them. But I also roll my eyes at those at the opposite end of the extreme scale of reactions to climate change. I’ll lament the demise of Climate Debate Daily. I guess it’s been a few years since I visited it. Three Christmas Eves ago, The hosts announced they were closing down the site. (It will live on at They sought “the strongest and most persuasive essays and articles supporting both sides of the debate.” But they closed on a pessimistic note. “Has the website been a success? It is hard to be sure, but our impression, based on reader feedback, is that it hasn’t. Few, if any, minds have been changed, in either direction. Confirmation bias is a powerful force, and we think that many people – no matter what their beliefs – simply read what they agree with and ignore or dismiss what they don’t. For the record, none of the three editors of the website have been in the least bit persuaded by the climate sceptics’ arguments despite the many hundreds of hours we have spent reading them. We note that after the website started its life on January 1, 2008, new global temperature records were set in 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and that a new record for the Arctic sea ice area minimum was set in 2012 (and almost matched in 2016). These, however, are not the sorts of facts that will change minds!” Maybe I’ll add a climate change category in the future.