Indulge Your Existential Dread 24/7 With This Real-Time Global Warming Clock

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

If there is one lesson of 2017, it’s that we are all going to die. But while nobody can predict when the bombs will drop or when billionaires will siphon your young blood, the Debbie Downers at Oxford did build a real time global warming index that lets you watch as we creep closer and closer to planetary heat death.


Gaze upon it and let the familiar wave anxiety wash over you. Go ahead, indulge those dark feelings. Click the link. I’ll wait.

Image: Global Warming Index

What you see is a global warming index based on research published last week in Scientific Reports. It includes an up-to-the-second estimate of how much warmer we’ve made the planet since the mid-1800s.

The scientists at Oxford and other institutions were able to estimate that by breaking out the natural fluctuations in climate that we know about—El Niño, volcanic eruptions, obscure climate oscillations—from the unnatural one we’re causing through our ever-increasing carbon emissions.

The findings are bleak AF. Humans have caused all of the observed warming since the 1850s according to the new study. Natural climate shifts contributed a whopping minus 0.01 degrees Celsius (minus 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit) give or take a few hundredths of a degree of change. We’re boiling ourselves slowly, like a frog in a pot.

Every second that passes brings us closer to the 2 degree Celsius threshold outlined as a “safe” amount of warming that humanity can handle. Every speck of carbon we chuck in the atmosphere puts one step closer to plunging off a planetary cliff.


Ah yeah, that’s the stuff.

If you’re not getting a full dose of melancholic dread, may I suggest pairing this experience with the carbon dioxide clock. It’s another Oxford jam that’s counting toward when humanity will emit its trillionth tonne of carbon dioxide. That’s the death knell for humanity having a good chance of keeping warming within that 2 degree Celsius bound.


For me, the real-time global warming index is enough. Is it too precise by going out to the billionth decimal? Sure.

But is it an accurate reflection of the overwhelming despair that keeps me awake at night staring at the slivers of light between my blinds? You’re damn right it is.


Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


Interesting widget. But because I gotta pedant

research published last week in Nature Scientific Reports.

That journal is just Scientific Reports. It’s published by the Nature Publishing Group, but the word nature isn’t in the journal’s title.