This graphic was made by British climatologist Ed Hawkins, who is a professor at the University of Reading.
These ‘climate stripes’ show how global temperatures have risen over the past 200 years.
You’ve probably already seen them on a sign at a climate march, on TV, on a US senator’s badge, at Fashion Week, or even on a soccer player’s jersey. These so-called “warming stripes” are now well-known and have become a new symbol for global warming. So where did they come from, and what do they mean?
The lines in these stripes get more pronounced as you move from left to right, making them look like a barcode. So-called “warming stripes” have become very popular and are now seen as one of the most common signs of global warming.
This graphic was made by British climatologist Ed Hawkins, who is a professor at the University of Reading. It is based on real information. The scientist, who helped write the last two IPCC reports, made these “climate stripes” in 2018, leaving out words and numbers on purpose. On the University of Reading website, Ed Hawkins says, “Just a series of vertical colored bars, showing the progressive heating of our planet in a single, striking image.”
These ‘climate stripes’ show how global temperatures have risen over the past 200 years. It begins with blue stripes in the 1850s and ends in the 2010s.
Each band shows the average temperature for one year compared to the average temperature for the whole time period. Shades of blue show years that were colder, while shades of red show years that were warmer. Ed Hawkins says, “The stark band of deep red stripes on the right-hand side of the graphic show the rapid heating of our planet in recent decades.”
The warming stripes graphic has spread like wildfire since it was first made in 2018. It can now be seen everywhere, like on the cover of Greta Thunberg’s new book, on the soccer jerseys of the city of Reading in England, at London Fashion Week, and other places. Brands have also jumped on the picture quickly.
Now, warming stripes are often used on things like mugs, T-shirts, and pin badges that are sold as merchandise. and even masks! Some people might see this as greenwashing, but you could also say that the fact that this symbol is now used by everyone is helping people remember the climate crisis.
Ed Hawkins says, “Stripes images for more than 200 countries, states, and cities are available to download for free from the #ShowYourStripes website. People in every country can see how their home is heating and share the images, helping to start conversations about climate change. More than a million people downloaded graphics from the site within a week of its launch in 2019.”
More than a million individuals downloaded visuals from the site within a week of its 2019 launch. A few years earlier, he devised an animated “climate spiral” portraying global warming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
It’s a beautiful and evocative graphic, but it hasn’t been as popular as the one that came after it, which had stripes.
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