The problem with representing change on a geologic timescale is just that: scale. We humans have only been around for a tiny fraction of the planet's history, and that inevitably colours our perceptions of changes that occur over millennia. That's one of the things that make the climate change debate so difficult: it's hard to represent the dramatic changes in the climate over the last 200 years in the context of climate history. (Deliberate FUD also has a lot to do with it.) It's difficult just to chart temperatures over that timescale, because the interesting part to us (human history) gets lost in the expanse of time. As a result, most representations of climate data are either compressed or truncated, which dampens the impact.
Randall Munroe has figured out a clever way to demonstrate the dramatic impact of modern climate change in a recent issue of XKCD: to simply plot the history of global temerature since the last ice age in one really, really, tall chart -- liberally decorated with the usual XKCD humour, of course:
That's just one tiny excerpt of the chart, you really need to click through and scroll through to the end to really appreciate its impact.
That's all from us here at the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday. Enjoy!