Feature

Scientists say Earth is hotter today than it has been for nearly all of the last 11,000 years

And it's only getting hotter

A new study published Thursday in the journal Science contains some eye-popping numbers regarding global temperature changes over the last few millennia. Per The Wall Street Journal:

New research suggests average global temperatures were higher in the past decade than over most of the previous 11,300 years, a finding that offers a long-term context for assessing modern-day climate change. [Wall Street Journal]

Previous climate research presented a much more condensed snapshot, stretching back 1,500 years max. According to The New York Times, these past studies also concluded "that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years." 

But this new, expansive experiment — led by Oregon State's Shaun Marcott — gives us a much wider scope of how Earth's temperatures have changed, stretching back to a warm period following the last Ice Age known as the Holocene. Scientists claim that this period of increased sunlight, which caused the northern ice sheets to melt, "set the stage for the rise of human civilization" by "permitting a high level of food production" about 8,000 years ago, says The Times

In their findings, Marcott's team discovered that it took 11 millennia from the Holocene's start for the global temperature to increase one degree. After that, it took just another 150 years — basically from the Industrial Revolution till now — for the temperature to rise another degree.

"What's different is the rate of change," says Marcott. "What we've seen over the past 150 years is much greater than anything we saw in the past 11,000 years." The team relied on proxy measurements from various sources to piece together a timeline of global temperature estimates — including readings from marine fossils, ice cores, and pollen levels.

So what does it all mean? According to the Journal:

The decade 2000-2009 was one of the warmest since modern record-keeping began. ... If the scientists' forecasts are correct, the planet will be warmer in 2100 than it has been for 11,300 years. [Wall Street Journal]

Recommended

CDC relaxes COVID-19 guidelines on quarantines, social distancing
People are urged to social distance on a golf course.
changes

CDC relaxes COVID-19 guidelines on quarantines, social distancing

California's powerful McKinney fire is causing the 'fire-breathing dragon of clouds'
The McKinney fire burns in Northern California.
natural disasters

California's powerful McKinney fire is causing the 'fire-breathing dragon of clouds'

What Biden should do about climate change
Joe Biden
Picture of Harold MaassHarold Maass

What Biden should do about climate change

Monarch butterflies listed as endangered after 'devastating decline'
A monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant flower.
save the butterflies

Monarch butterflies listed as endangered after 'devastating decline'

Most Popular

The Daily Show cleverly illustrates Fox News double standard on FBI raids
Trevor Noah
Last Night on Late Night

The Daily Show cleverly illustrates Fox News double standard on FBI raids

Axios revives Trump toilet scoop ... with photos
Donald Trump.
toiletgate

Axios revives Trump toilet scoop ... with photos

Trump reportedly wanted generals like Hitler's 'German generals in World War II'
Trevor Noah
Don't Know Much about History....

Trump reportedly wanted generals like Hitler's 'German generals in World War II'