Map Monday: Climate Change through the millenia … yikes!

Last week was jammed packed with news of a political nature: a turn in the tide of the horrific war in Ukraine (dare we hope), the announcement of a new prime minister of the UK (the 4th in 6 years), the death of Britain’s longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the succession of the new monarch, King Charles III, a new Conservative opposition leader in Canada, and continuing revelations and tussling about the huge numbers of classified documents recovered at Mar a Lago, to name but a few. But there were other stories in the news of a somewhat non-political nature, at least on the face of it; those have to do with the increasingly devastating results of inaction on curbing man-made climate change.

#1 among those climate-related news items is the utter devastation from flooding in Pakistan. Complete and utter devastation.  With considerable validity, that country is decrying the relative lack of help from the world’s wealthiest countries, the very countries whose past 100 years of industrialization have caused these extreme climatic events and also the very countries whose carbon-emitting industrialization has made them the wealthy countries they are. There have been many other climate-related stories in the news this past week, including savage wildfires in California, more flooding and wildfires, and unprecedented heat waves that are challenging power grids in many places. When we have a humidex reading of 34C (93F) in mid-September way up here in eastern Canada, north of Maine, you know things have changed!

Although not a map in the strict sense of the word, the unique timeline below, brought to us by XKCD.COM, illustrates the story of changes in the world’s climate since 20,000 BCE. As it says in its header, when people say the climate has changed before, these are the kinds of changes they’re talking about.  This simple and effective – and very long but fun – timeline is done in cartoon style, is easy to follow, and tells the tale of the extent of the havoc that we “wealthy” folks have managed to inflict on our planet in 100 short years out of the past 22,000.  [This work by, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License, which means you’re free to copy and share their material, but not to sell them. Thanks to Viqar for pointing me in its direction.]


Some of these interactive maps might help fill in some details. Besides, they’re fun to explore, even if scary.

First let’s look at the expected rise in sea level around the world depending on how much global warming increases. Currently we sit at a little more than 1 degree C since 1880, but 2/3 of that increase has occurred since 1975! This interactive map at allows you to set a temperature change interval to show what current land masses will be under water at that increase. You can zoom in on any part of the world you want. The maps I have captured are set at what things will look like at 2C and at 4C. You can click on the full world map to access the interactive map and play with it. Zoom in and out, roam around the world. I’ve included screen shots of what southern Florida might look like and what my own hometown of Fredericton might look like with those changes. Not a pretty picture!




Another fascinating (and unsettling) interactive map site is provided by Most of them are displayed as cartograms, those multifaceted maps that show country size according to their contribution to the variable being presented. Remember these from previous Map Mondays?!

This interactive map allows you to choose two variables at a time to present. One variable is the topic chosen, which in the first example is People At Risk. A second variable can be set by changing the option in the drop box to the right, which in the first example is set to GDP per person. Let’s take a look at the story these maps tell. As is the case with Pakistan at the moment (and food insecurity across much of Africa as droughts and even higher temperatures continue), the parts of the world where there are far more people and yet far less contribution to carbon emissions bear the brunt of the outcomes of climate change.

Cartogram of whose most at risk from Climate Change, shaded according to GDP/country MM-ClimateVulnerability

Cartogram of what countries produce the most emissions, shaded according to population growth MM-ClimateEmissions

Cartogram of consumption use by country, shaded according to CO2 use (imports and exports) MM-ClimateConsumption1

This final interactive map at also has a number of dropdown boxes you can play with to see different maps with somewhat different variables and values being used. I’m sure some of you will enjoy giving it a trial run. The maps I have selected show the change in ground level temperatures across the world when we hit an increase in global warming of 2C and of 4C. They aren’t pretty. And you will notice that the far north is the worst affected by far. Not only does that virtually wipe out the ability for people and most animals to live as they have done at those latitudes, it is also the reason that the poles and the Greenland Ice Sheet are melting, our sea levels are rising, and our ocean currents are changing and causing havoc with our weather due to warming seas.

Changes in ground level temperatures with 2C degrees of global warming. MM-ClimateTemperatureChange

Changes in ground level temperatures with 4C degrees of global warming. MM-ClimateTempChange4deg

Oh, what we have wrought on our planet through our innovation, first being used in blissful ignorance and then, sadly, with willful blindness and/or just plain greed. Unintended consequences?  Yes, at first. But we have no excuse for our collective inaction.

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29 Responses to Map Monday: Climate Change through the millenia … yikes!

  1. With each weather catastrophe, I think it can’t get worse, then it does. It seems so unfair that Pakistan is drowning when they contribute so little to raising the earth’s temperature. We share one planet and yet we westerners do much more than our share to wreck it. I get some comfort that our kids are much more aware of climate change and working every day to slow it however it’s hard to imagine that it’s enough in time to make the critical difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Well said, Jill. And I share your concern that individual efforts are not enough. I get how difficult it is politically to constrain successful petroleum-product related industries (jobs, economic upheaval, votes, etc), but I feel like we’ve left the truly meaningful actions too late. 😥


  2. barryh says:

    Great post Jane. Fascinating, informative…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lookoom says:

    It’s about time to get the Pokemon back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. This is quite a piece of work. Other than wondering how horses became domesticated after they became extinct, I wonder how much longer we can stay sound asleep and expect to survive. With luck, we’ll wake up before we go extinct. Great post. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Julia. Lol re the horses; we’ll hope that they were two different species of horses! I share your concern that the world’s leaders are fooling themselves if they think the planet’s going to hang on just because they don’t want to be the ones to make the truly tough decisions. We’ve run out of time. 😥


  5. Fascinating and scary all at the same time! Interesting reading. Thanks for sharing Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the “still pretty cold” and the Stonehenge graphic. What a fascinating map, ‘er chronology! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rose says:

    Wow, this is riveting information you’ve compiled. It should be read by every human on earth!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re quite right, Jane, about there being no excuses. Frankly, I think our Canadian media is a contributor to the problem. Look, I’m a fan of Queen Elizabeth and her passing is sad, but it’s pretty much all CTV National and CBC National have covered for the past 4 days! Canadian politics and the war in Ukraine have been reduced to sidebars, and as you point out, there is little about climate effects. Yes, the weather reports cover the wildfires here in BC and the horrible air quality, but the media doesn’t speak to the larger picture at all these days. I understand and appreciate that there will be full coverage of the Queen’s funeral on the 19th, but must we be bombarded with the same clips over and over again? It’s getting ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. I’m afraid we’re in for plenty more coverage of the Queen for the next week or so, Debra! But, seriously, it is amazing how all these climate catastrophes can be covered and yet the underlying cause and the sacrifices our governments and industries must make NOW to keep these catastrophes from increasing in frequency and devastation are not highlighted in each news coverage. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for your work on this even though it is scary and disheartening. I am forwarding to my children but also to a few friends who seem to have no idea of what is happening in our world and blissfully carry on as if it none of this is happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Take some time to really read this and check out the links!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bernie says:

    As usual a very enlightening post. Did anyone else notice how big China, Russia and India are on those maps and yet how unlikely they will be to change a single thing. Not that we don’t need to do our share as a country but as I’ve said before each of us can reduce our footprint yet that changes little.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Well, Bernie, except that the first cartogram, where China and India show so large is because those regions are hugely impacted by climate change. The other two cartogrammes, where they’re large but not as large, is because their populations are staggeringly higher than the “western” countries; they’re consuming and emitting far less per person. I think govts have to start imposing strict limits on production and use of petroleum-based products (that includes plastics), restrictions on packaging, and incentives for energy-efficient bldg processes (replacing cement), etc. We all have to do our part, but when the stores are filled with plastic bottles, just for starters, that’s pretty difficult.


  12. heimdalco says:

    SO very sad for our beautiful planet … that offers so much & has been so terribly abused. Now it is being used as a pawn by short-sighted politicians vying for votes. My heart weeps. Your post includes such a sweeping scale. My husband & I are still trying to deal with the heartache of lake Meade as its water levels plummet towards all time lows revealing long-missing bodies in an area used as a dumping ground to hide unbelievable crimes. In Texas water levels in a lake have revealed foot prints of dinosaurs long dead. Exciting & often sad & horrific discoveries revealed in the wake of unbelievable atrocities to our beautiful planet. We feel helpless. My heart aches …

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Roy McCarthy says:

    A brilliant presentation Jane, thank you. But we’re past the point that those capable of action will take notice of anything unless it will affect them personally in the short term. I was on a guided geo-walk yesterday around Portelet Common and was strangely comforted by the guide’s assurance that, though the human race may do away with itself, Nature will continue to merrily adapt and thrive thereafter as it has always done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know what you mean, Roy. It’s kind of like we’ll get what we deserve and the rest of those who inhabit Earth – flora and fauna -can start to flourish again. A book published several years ago now, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, described how quickly our cities will be reclaimed by plants and animals!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. debscarey says:

    Unfortunately, when it comes to politicians and leaders taking action, all they’re doing is adding more hot air and taking no action at all. There was a piece some time back which discussed how many of the UK government’s cabinet had connections to energy companies (and not the green ones). I’m afraid it’s powerful lobbies who are making the laws, hence where we find ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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