When it comes to climate change, it’s often difficult to convey an appropriate sense of urgency. After all, this is a problem that been building for decades, and will take decades of coordinated effort to solve.
Still, something especially troubling is happening at a planetary scale this year. The first three months of 2016 have been so ridiculously warm that our planet is already a shoo-in to record the warmest calendar year since records began. El Niño is a big factor in why this global step-change is happening right now, but it’s not the whole story. Most of the current warming, at least when compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, is the direct result of greenhouse gas emissions.
Using data from the U.K. Met Office’s Hadley Centre, Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, constructed an affecting animation: