7 climate change data tools and what they tell you

Interactives from the likes of NASA, WRI and the Financial Times open up hours of fun for the global warming watcher

(Pic: NASA/Flickr)

(Pic: NASA/Flickr)

By Megan Darby

Emissions data, temperature data, fossil fuel extraction data: the climate debate is awash with numbers.

Which numbers are important depends on where you’re sitting.

Animal rights campaigner? Find out the carbon footprint of meat-eating. Live on the coast? You’ll want to know about sea level rise. Negotiating for Bangladesh? Remind rich countries of their historic emissions.

But it can be hard to find answers in the mass of information. Here are seven tools that can help. Add your recommendations below the line.


1. CAIT Climate Data Explorer – WRI

cait map view

Perhaps the most comprehensive offering comes from the World Resources Institute.

Maps show what countries have pledged to do by 2020 and their post-2020 contributions to a prospective Paris climate deal.

Another tool gives various options to assess equity – what’s fair? Check out how different countries compare on historic emissions, projected future emissions, wealth, vulnerability to climate impacts or ability to respond.

You can also explore CAIT data using Google.


2. Climate time machine – NASA

For any lingering doubters that the planet is indeed warming – and carbon dioxide might have something to do with it – this visual couldn’t be clearer.

By dragging a slider across the screen, see how global temperatures, Arctic sea ice cover and CO2 concentrations have changed over time.

You can also see which coastal regions will go under water at different rates of sea level rise.


3. Global calculator – UK government

global calculatorBacked by the UK and with inputs from several research organisations, this calculator lets you play God with the world’s future.

See what impact various technology, lifestyle and land use choices have on the warming trajectory of the plant, or toggle different scenarios for population growth.

What would it take to limit warming to 1.5C? What if everyone says no to windfarms or takes lots of foreign holidays? Find out here.


4. Climate Change Calculator – Financial Times

FTOf course, nobody actually has the power to make sweeping policy shifts worldwide. Under the UN climate process, it falls to national governments to determine their countries’ emissions targets.

This recent offering from the Financial Times, in partnership with Climate-KIC, allows you to adjust ambition levels for different countries. The parameters are set as “no change” and cuts consistent with holding temperature rise to 2C, with the way that is shared out not made explicit.

It shows that under the national climate pledges for Paris, the world’s nine biggest emitters (counting the EU as one) take up the entire 2C carbon budget in 2030.


5. Energy Innovation

energy innovationsThis US-based simulator lets you pick from a policy menu and see the impact on emissions.

Set a carbon tax, plant acres of forest and roll out electric cars, for example, and a chart will show how close it gets you to the US 2025 target.

President Barack Obama’s clean power plan doesn’t do all the work, this model shows.


6. Fossil fuel ticker – The Guardian

Ok, so this one isn’t interactive, but it does work with relevant data.

As part of its ‘Keep it in the ground’ campaign, the Guardian made this graphic to show just how fast fossil fuels are being churned out. The idea is to highlight that coal, oil and gas company business models are incompatible with the 2C warming limit.

In phase two of the newspaper campaign, it is shifting attention to the positive stories. Perhaps we’ll learn how many football pitches can be covered by solar panels.


7. US opinion map – Yale

us opinion map

And finally, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has impressively granular data on how the subject polarises America.

Break the polls down to state, district or county level and see who is embracing the scientific consensus and who has doubts.

Read more on: Blog | Climate Science | NDCs