Which way to go

Q: Does it matter what we do to limit climate change? And if so, will it make just a little difference, or a lot?

A: The difference is huge, as this pair of graphics illustrates especially vividly:

  • For the U.S., see Figure ES4 of the Executive Summary of the 2017 National Climate Assessment Special Report. The rest of this summary is well worth reading and written in an accessible style; the opening page is an excellent succinct summary of the scientific highlights.
  • For the world, see this figure (2.2) from the 5th IPCC report.

These are images worth printing, laminating, and carrying around to show to friends and acquaintances who need encouragement to act, or keep acting.

Really good graphics, of course, can convey a lot of important information really quickly and vividly. But not everybody is experienced in reading them. This collection of 24 especially good climate change graphics from the New York Times offers a double treasure: the graphs, charts, and maps themselves, and also an engaging demonstration of how to teach students (of any age, including ourselves) how to read such images. Each visual is accompanied by a very short explanation and a link to the article it originally accompanied.

Finally, for a comprehensive set of 36 graphics about CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, plus explanations, see this page compiled by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser from Our World in Data. This collection is somewhat more technical than those above, but non-specialists can still make sense of it.

This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

SueEllen Campbell created and for over a decade curated the website "100 Views of Climate Change," a multidisciplinary collection of pieces accessible to interested non-specialists. She is especially interested...