This GIF About Climate Change Took the Internet by Storm
Science| | By Lauren Boudreau
With last April being the seventh warmest consecutive month to date and entire islands disappearing beneath water, it’s hard to deny climate change exists. Yet, somehow, people seem to still think it’s all a hoax or just not that important.
Perhaps that’s why climate scientist Ed Hawkins created a GIF to showcase global temperature change from 1850 to now.
What he didn’t expect, however, was for the GIF to go viral, getting over 13,000 retweets.
— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) May 9, 2016
“I can’t quite believe it,” Hawkins said of the post. “It was just designed to try and communicate in a different way. As scientists I think we need to communicate, and try different things, and this was just one of those trials, and it has turned out very well.”
Hawkins said one of the reasons he thinks it resonates is because it’s a simple interpretation. We live in such a visual world nowadays that perhaps people need to see charts and graphs come to life instead of just sitting flat on a page.
The important part, however, is not why it got people talking, but rather that it did.
Hawkins took temperatures for each month and plotted them in a spiral formation, with cooler temperatures being toward the middle and warmer ones moving outward. What’s really interesting to see on the animation is how temperatures naturally fluctuate from year to year.
And while this GIF may look alarming, Hawkins said that it wasn’t meant to scare anyone, but rather indicate that we have the power to change things.
Are temperatures "spiralling out of control"? No. Humans are largely responsible for past warming so we have control over what happens next.
— Ed Hawkins (@ed_hawkins) May 11, 2016