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Global temperature from 1850 to 2018 compared to pre-industrial values

Since the mid-19th century, the trajectory of global temperatures has undergone significant shifts, closely intertwined with the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

This increase is largely attributed to human activities, particularly the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Notably, many of the hottest years on record have occurred within recent decades, underscoring the acceleration of global warming.

The IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report on the Physical Basis of Climate Change indicates that the probable range of total human-induced global surface temperature rise from 1850–1900 to 2010–2019 is between 0.8°C to 1.3°C, with a central estimate of 1.07°C (2.01 ˚F). During this timeframe, it is probable that greenhouse gases contributed a warming effect of 1.0°C to 2.0°C, while other human influences, primarily aerosols, contributed a cooling effect of 0.0°C to 0.8°C. Natural drivers such as solar and volcanic activity led to a change in global surface temperature ranging from –0.1°C to +0.1°C, while internal variability resulted in changes of –0.2°C to +0.2°C.

The graph below created by Reddit user: neilrkaye shows global temperature compared to pre-industual average.

Global temperature from 1850 to 2018 compared to pre-industrial values 
Here is another visualization of average global temperature from 1860 to 2021 compared to pre-industrial values.

Global temperature compared to pre-industrial values

In the visualization below, the x-axis represents a range of temperatures compared to 1961-1990 for the years indicated at that latitude.


This warming trend has triggered various consequences, including the rapid melting of ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Moreover, the oceans have absorbed much of the excess heat, leading to ocean warming and acidification, which pose significant threats to marine ecosystems. 

Efforts to address climate change include international agreements like the Paris Agreement, aiming to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, adaptation to the impacts of climate change remains a critical challenge, requiring coordinated action across sectors and nations to build resilience and mitigate vulnerabilities in the face of a changing climate.

Interested in delving deeper into the topic of global warming? Consider exploring these books.

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