4 October 2019

Ed Hawkins “Climate Stripes” May be the Most Important Science Image so Far in This Century

Posted by Dan Satterfield

The original Hockey Stick from Mann et.al 1999

Dr. Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading produced an image last year that made my jaw drop.

It now has a name.

Climate Stripes.

Earthrise is likely the most reproduced photograph in history. It is widely accepted as the trigger for a sea-change in public concern about the environment.

Hawkins assigned colours to the Earth’s temperature since 1850, and it powerfully shows how the planet is warming. It’s rapidly becoming as well known as what may be the most important science image of the last century, Dr. Michael Mann’s famous hockey stick. The hockey stick was published in 1999 and it ranks with Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Ander’s Earthrise as the most powerful science images of the 20th century.

Climate Stripes is on the cover of the Sept. 19th issue of The Economist, and it got the attention of Bill Gates.

One thing I have learned after 40 years explaining science on TV: When the eye and the ear compete, the eye always wins.

Images are powerful.


The last paragraph of The Economist story is worth putting in large type.

“Some claim that capitalism’s love of growth inevitably pits it against a stable climate. This newspaper believes them wrong. But climate change could nonetheless be the death knell for economic freedom, along with much else. If capitalism is to hold its place, it must up its game.”