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Visualization Describes Just How Close We Are To Exceeding Our Planet’s Carbon Budget

Visualization Describes Just How Close We Are To Exceeding Our Planet’s Carbon Budget
Media & Publishing

Don't let their beauty fool you—these graphs warn of real danger to Earth's ecosystem

Ido Lechner, Home Editor
  • 12 august 2016

Designed to raise awareness around our planet’s carbon emissions, Climate Energy College‘s three-part animation series visualizes the rise in global temperatures and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of our irresponsible—and perhaps irreversible—fossil fuel consumption. At the climate talks in Paris last fall, 175 countries established an agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius at maximum, with a target of 1.5 degrees due to the inevitability of worldwide emissions.

Following the virality of Ed Hawkins’ “climate spiral” imagining, researchers decided to pair the piece with two moving charts of their own, which is how the series was birthed. According to the experts who helped conceive the graphs, we’re well on track to blowing past the aimed 1.5-degree Celsius increase, hitting a 2-degree spike in just a few decades. To put these seemingly low numbers in perspective, a climate change of 2 degrees translates to a trillion tons of carbon dioxide, and we’ve already released somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 million tons. Reference the charts for a visual understanding of what that looks like.

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