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WTF? We just experienced 4,000 years of global warming in two decades

Graphic by Barry Saxifrage

A new study published in the journal Science shows how freakishly extreme global warming has become in the last few decades.

The scientists from Oregon State University and Harvard University used dozens of sources of ice cores and sediment cores from around the world to reconstruct the Earth’s temperature record for the last 1,100 decades. This detailed record stretches back much farther than previous studies.

Here is my chart of the temperature data they uncovered:


Global temperatures rose slowly for thousands of years after the end of the last ice age. Temperatures peaked around 5,000 BC, at a level close to where we are today. Then temperatures declined slowly for thousands of more years.

Now, suddenly, the global temperature has started rocketing upwards. Far more troubling than the actual temperature is the fact that the changes are accelerating dramatically.

The century from 1860 to 1960 saw rapid warming. The next two decades more than doubled that warming. And then the next two decades – 1980 to 2000 – went ballistic, piling on thousands of years of warming.

Last week another study was published showing global warming has continued to accelerate since then, with dramatic warming of the world's oceans in the last 15 years.

Just getting started

As unprecedented as this temperature explosion has been, it will unfortunately look tiny compared to what global experts now say is coming on our current dirty energy path.

The amount of climate pollution humans are releasing has been accelerating with no signs of slowing down. Last year broke the record for largest increase.

The normally staid pronouncements of international institutions are starting to crackle with concern:

Read More:

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