One of the biggest challenges when talking about climate change is just how abstract and technical it is. The moment you start blabbing about “radiative forcings” or “CO2 concentration projections,” people tune out. It's hard to make these concepts concrete. In order to understand what’s happening to the planet, it helps to have something simple and visual.
That’s why this GIF is so striking. It simply shows how much the planet has warmed since 1850. The trend is unmistakable.
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, devised this ingenious way to illustrate just how quickly the world has warmed in the last century and a half. That outer two-degree marker is a goal set by the recently signed Paris Agreement. Scientists and world leaders hope to keep the world’s temperature below two degrees of pre-industrial levels.