There’s a cute, nerdy cartoon ‚Äì A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature ‚Äì that has been doing the rounds on the internet by bestselling author Randall Munroe purporting to illustrate the dire, unprecedented threat that is man-made global warming.
It’s at a site hugely popular with geeks and nerds called xkcd ‚Äì “A webcom of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. Millennials will look at it and go “Wow, that is like totally sick!”, their eyes opened as never before to the menace of late 20th/early 21st century climate change. They will go on demos, launch petitions on Change.Org, demand of politicians that ever more stringent action be taken now.
This is why we need some kind of reverse Logan’s Run where everyone under thirty ‚Äì sorry kids ‚Äì is put permanently out of their misery as a punishment for being so credulous, self-righteous and stupid.
Or, if that sounds too extreme, then at least let us join Jo Nova and William Briggs in humiliating the author of this utterly misleading cartoon so as to prick his bubble of pompous, ignorant, self-regarding, passive-aggressive, pontificating greenery.
The cartoonist Randall Munroe is the author of a bestselling pop-science book called What If? and was named by Wired magazine one of the 20 key influences of the last 20 years.
According to William Briggs ‚Äì Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell ‚Äì who has deconstructed Munroe’s blogpost, we shouldn’t be too hard on Munroe and his crappy cartoon because it is just repeating rubbish he heard elsewhere.
But having read Munroe’s self-description I am inclined to show less mercy:
I’m just this guy, you know? I’m a CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, I worked on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. As of June 2007 I live in Massachusetts. In my spare time I climb things, open strange doors, and go to goth clubs dressed as a frat guy so I can stand around and look terribly uncomfortable. At frat parties I do the same thing, but the other way around.
You see what I mean about the passive-aggressive stuff? He’s trying to make out that, you know, he’s really just an ordinary guy whose views you can, like, take or leave, whatever. But then he throws in that false modesty stuff about his physics degree and his robot research in CIA country and the obviously huge and dangerous mountains he climbs and the clear implication is: “I am one big deal. I know important science stuff. And by the way, here’s this amazing cartoon I did which, amid all the side-splitting mirth of my wacky sense of humour, has a very, very serious point to make about man-made global warming which you should totally heed and then share with all your friends.”
Anyway, whether you decide you feel quite sorry for Munroe or think he’s a dick is neither here nor there. The point is that his cartoon is wrong and misleading for a number of reasons. Mainly these concern the bit right at the end where, having shown global temperatures rising ever so slowly over a period of 20,000 years, Munroe suddenly has them skyrocket upwards in a way designed to make you go “the horror!”
Munroe ‚Äì in his charming “hey, I know this is like, science, man but it’s fun and unthreatening too don’t you think?” handwriting ‚Äì offers us three options of global temperature paths: “best-case scenario assuming immediate massive action to limit emissions”, “optimistic scenario” and “current path”.
Will it surprise you to learn that even the “best-case scenario” is quite terrifyingly dire?
No, of course it won’t because we have heard this crap many, many times before from the usual doom-mongers in the climate alarmist establishment.