Jul 25, 2019

Why today's global warming is "unprecedented"

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Recent global warming is an "unprecedented" worldwide phenomenon that differs from the more regional and staggered climatic variations that occurred during the past 2,000 years, a new study concludes.

Why it matters: The paper in the peer-reviewed journal Nature underscores the scope of human-driven warming and how it contrasts with variations in the pre-industrial era.

Where it stands: The study, using information from tree rings, ice cores and more, reconstructs past periods to show that major fluctuations occurred in different places at different times.

  • The paper finds "no evidence for preindustrial globally coherent cold and warm epochs" over the past 2,000 years.
  • For instance, the "little ice age" was coldest in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean in the 15th century, in northwestern Europe and southeastern North America in the 17th century, and in most other places in the 19th century.

The big picture: The results support a "regional framing" for understanding the climate variability in the 2 millennia before the industrial revolution — and demonstrates that it's a very stark contrast to what's happening now.

"When we go back in the past these are regional phenomena. We found 98% of the globe has this coherent warming during this contemporary period after the Industrial Revolution,"
— said co-author Nathan Steiger of Columbia University at a press briefing this week.

The bottom line: The findings provide "strong evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency within the context of the past 2,000 years," the paper states.

What they're saying: University College London scientist Mark Maslin, who was not part of the study, told Reuters the results should "finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural ... cycle."

Go deeper: All the global temperature records broken in 2019, so far

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - Science

Live updates: SpaceX attempts to launch NASA astronauts Saturday

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

At 3:22 p.m. ET today, SpaceX is expected to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station for the first time.

Why it matters: The liftoff — should it go off without a hitch — will be the first time a private company has launched people to orbit. It will also bring crewed launches back to the U.S. for the first time in nine years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

Follow along below for live updates throughout the day...

In photos: We've seen images like the protests in Minneapolis before

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/MPI/Getty Images

The photos of protests around the country following the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police are hauntingly familiar. We’ve seen them many times before, going back decades.

Why it matters: "What is also unmistakable in the bitter protests in Minneapolis and around the country is the sense that the state is either complicit or incapable of effecting substantive change," Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University writes in the New York Times. The images that follow make all too clear how little has changed since the modern Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,968,693— Total deaths: 365,796 — Total recoveries — 2,520,587Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,749,846 — Total deaths: 102,900 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Economy: The future of mobility in the post-pandemic worldGeorge Floyd's killing and economic calamity are both part of America's unfinished business.
  4. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  5. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  6. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  7. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.