The science of climate change, explained.

Edition #025

Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times climate team’s definitive answers to big questions about our warming world — and how we know what we know.

How do we know climate change is really happening?

Climate change is often cast as a prediction made by complicated computer models. But the scientific basis for climate change is much broader, and models are actually only one part of it (and, for what it’s worth, they’re surprisingly accurate).

For more than a century, scientists have understood the basic physics behind why greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide cause warming. These gases make up just a small fraction of the atmosphere but exert outsized control on Earth’s climate by trapping some of the planet’s heat before it escapes into space. This greenhouse effect is important: It’s why a planet so far from the sun has liquid water and life!

However, during the Industrial Revolution, people started burning coal and other fossil fuels to power factories, smelters and steam engines, which added more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Ever since, human activities have been heating the planet.

We know this is true thanks to an overwhelming body of evidence that begins with temperature measurements taken at weather stations and on ships starting in the mid-1800s. Later, scientists began tracking surface temperatures with satellites and looking for clues about climate change in geologic records. Together, these data all tell the same story: Earth is getting hotter.

🔥 Average global temperatures have increased by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.2 degrees Celsius, since 1880, with the greatest changes happening in the late 20th century. Land areas have warmed more than the sea surface and the Arctic has warmed the most — by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit just since the 1960s. Temperature extremes have also shifted. In the United States, daily record highs now outnumber record lows two-to-one.

We also know that climate change is happening because we see the effects everywhere. Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking while sea levels are rising. Arctic sea ice is disappearing. In the spring, snow melts sooner and plants flower earlier. Animals are moving to higher elevations and latitudes to find cooler conditions. And droughts, floods and wildfires have all gotten more extreme. Models predicted many of these changes, but observations show they are now coming to pass.

How bad are the effects of climate change going to be?

It depends on how aggressively we act to address climate change. If we continue with business as usual, by the end of the century, it will be too hot to go outside during heat waves in the Middle East and South AsiaDroughts will grip Central America, the Mediterranean, and southern Africa. And many island nations and low-lying areas, from Texas to Bangladesh, will be overtaken by rising seas.

Conversely, climate change could bring welcome warming and extended growing seasons to the upper Midwest, Canada, the Nordic countries and Russia. Farther north, however, the loss of snow, ice and permafrost will upend the traditions of Indigenous peoples and threaten infrastructure.

What will it cost to do something about climate change, versus doing nothing?

One of the most common arguments against taking aggressive action to combat climate change is that doing so will kill jobs and cripple the economy. But that implies that there’s an alternative in which we pay nothing for climate change. And unfortunately, there isn’t.

In reality, not tackling climate change will cost a lot and will cause enormous human suffering and ecological damage, while transitioning to a greener economy would benefit many people and ecosystems around the world.

ℹ️ The New York Times is still providing free access to the most important news and useful guidance on the coronavirus outbreak to help us understand the pandemic. Here are the latest updates and maps of the outbreak.

Remote jobs

💯 Global remote design jobs without geo-restrictions.

Educational Partner

You should not take any risks with your design education when you want to learn and advance your career. Your course content should be evidence-based and valuable to your job.

On this mission, we partnered with the Interaction Design Foundation, the World’s leading online design school with serves peer-reviewed, evidence-based educational materials, and industry-recognized course certificates.

Trusted by IBM and Adobe who train their teams with IDF courses, you can enroll now through our collaboration and get 3 months off your yearly membership to make a life-changing shift into UX design or stay ahead.

Tools & Resources

🌎 Klima

Effective, immediate, simple climate action in the palm of your hand. Available for download now. 📲

When doing your part to reduce climate change, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why Klima creates a personal estimate of the greenhouse gases you’re generating—and suggests concrete ways to offset that.

Who it’s for: Anyone who’s curious about their personal impact on the environment. Klima asks a few specifics about your lifestyle—for example, how many miles you drive a year, how big your home is, and how often you shop. Using those numbers, the app tells you how much you would need to donate to carbon-offsetting projects to cancel out your carbon footprint.

What sets it apart: Contribute right in the app to up to three causes—like tree planting, solar power, and providing clean-fuel cookstoves to people around the world who need them—and see exactly how much CO2 your donations are offsetting.

Don’t miss: Because offsetting alone won’t stop climate change, the app also suggests ways to reduce your carbon footprint. A personalized checklist tells you how going vegan, driving less, or cutting back on shopping can reduce your overall impact on the environment.

🇬🇧 Government Design Principles are the UK government's design principles and examples of how they've been used. Each principle includes links to articles with additional explanations and reflections. You can also download the principles as posters, and do not forget to give a visit to Lou Downe's website↗. She is the brain behind transforming the UK government to be design-led and creating these government-wide design principles. Amazing scope of work…

👩‍💻 CV is a progressive platform used by thousands of people to create more mindful professional profiles. A fun and intuitive editor allows you to create a beautiful profile in just a couple of minutes.

🧠 UX Design Challenges provide real-world exercises for practicing specific UX design skills, which pretty useful for beginners and experts alike. You can train yourself in crucial skills and tools, take away portfolio-worthy deliverables

🤔 Methods & Tools provides resources for anyone who wants to do things more creatively and collaboratively in their team or organization. It’s a collection of methods and activities, based on Hyper Island’s methodology, that you can start using today.

📖 52 Weeks of UX is a discourse on the process of designing for real people, an old project from product designer Joshua Porter and Josh Brewer which ended in 2011 but contains some amazing writings, articles with great insights and information.

🦋 Dream Projects’ free monthly challenges give you the inspiration you need to build the portfolio you deserve. Even the best designers struggle to create great portfolios. Reimagine digital experiences for the brands you’ve always dreamed of working on. Gain recognition, learn new skills and get amazing career coaching, all while creating a portfolio that blows employers away.

👀 Same Energy is a powerful visual search engine that helps you discover new styles. You can use it to find beautiful art, photography, decoration ideas, or anything else.

🎲 is a font game for designers. Inspired by another game Can't Unsee, where you need to pick the design that is most correct, that tests your attention to details.

⚡️ Fontjoy generates font pairings in one click and helps designers choose the best font combinations. Mix and match different fonts for the perfect pairing.

🎨 Noise & Gradient generates your very own trendy textured backgrounds.

🌈 gives you color palettes inspired by beautiful nature photos.

Accessible Color Spaces is a color contrast tool by Kevin Gutowski, you can test your button’s contrast ratio for accessibility requirements.

Last week at Config 2021, Figma announced some cool features like FigJam, Branching, Audio, and a new mobile app. What’s new in Figma ↗️

  • FigJam, a new whiteboard space for teams to ideate and brainstorm.

  • Branching, a new workflow that enables others to contribute to your design system

  • A new mobile app, an easier way for stakeholders to view designs from anywhere

  • Audio, a new channel to converse with teammates while iterating on designs

  • Higher user limits, so 500+ of your design friends can come together in Figma

  • And publishing to the Figma Community for everyone.

Design Resources Center

Explore our ever-growing website with 1500+ design tools and resources.


A case for planet centric design

Kwame Ferreira | Medium

Walking the talk: Our sustainability practices

Markus Gilles | Klima blog

Camera Obscura: Beyond the lens of user-centered design

Alexis Lloyd, Devin Mancuso, Diana Sonis, and Lis Hubert | Medium

Against Performative Positivity

Danah Abdulla | Future

The problem of CryptoArt

Joanie Lemercier | Studio Blog

Everything easy is hard again

Frank Chimero | Blog

Deliverables vs Delivery

Joshua Porter | 52 Weeks of UX

A shorthand for designing UI flows

Ryan | Signal v. Noise

Thinking about color

Cloudflare Design


What is Service Design?

What makes people choose one coffee shop over another when both offer the exact same coffee for the same price? And what makes them come back, again and again?
Here's short video explaining why putting people at the heart of the experience, embracing co-creation, and taking a holistic approach is what Service Design is all about.

What happened

  • Apple just wrapped up its “Spring Loaded” event, announcing new iPads, iMacs, and more. It was jam-packed with news from the company.

    • The company debuted a completely redesigned. All-new iMac featuring a much more compact and remarkably thin design, enabled by the M1 chip. The new iMac offers powerful performance in a design that’s just 11.5 millimeters thin, with a striking side profile that practically disappears. Available in an array of vibrant colors to match a user’s personal style and brighten any space, iMac features a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness, and over a billion colors, delivering a brilliant and vivid viewing experience. They’ll also come with a new wireless keyboard that includes Touch ID for authentication

    • New iPad Pros have now the company’s M1 chip.

    • Apple took the wraps off its long-rumored AirTag item trackers, which you can track in the Find My app. You can customize your AirTag with emoji, too. You’ll be able to preorder them on Friday for $29, and they’ll be available on April 30th. You can also get a four-pack for $99.

    • The company revealed an Apple TV 4K, which comes equipped with the same A12 Bionic chip found on the iPhone 12, plus a new Apple TV remote, which is made of aluminum and has a Siri button on the side. Apple TV can now play HDR and high frame rate videos. It will start at $179 for 32GB.

    • Apple also announced that subscriptions are coming to the Podcasts app, which gives you benefits like ad-free listening. The service will launch in 170 regions and countries next month. The company is also redesigning the Podcasts app.

    • Here’s everything from the hour-long event in 11 minutes:

  • Signal plans to announce that it's rolling out the ability for some of its users to send money to one another within its fast-growing encrypted communications network.

    • To do so, it has integrated support for the cryptocurrency MobileCoin, a form of digital cash designed to work efficiently on mobile devices while protecting users' privacy and even their anonymity. For now, the payment feature will be available only to users in the UK, and only on iOS and Android, not the desktop.

  • Clubhouse launches payments so creators can make money.

    • Clubhouse, a one-year-old social audio app reportedly valued at $1 billion, will now allow users to send money to their favorite creators — or speakers — on the platform. In a blog post, the startup announced the new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as the “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse.”

  • Charles “Chuck” Geschke, the founder of Adobe and developer of PDFs, Photoshop, PostScript, Illustrator, Premiere, dies at age 81.

  • Reddit unveiled its take on a Clubhouse-like social audio product on Monday, called Reddit Talk. The company is billing Monday’s announcement as a “sneak preview,” since the feature isn’t widely available yet. Moderators that want to try the feature out in their subreddit can add themselves to a waitlist for access.

    • Based on Reddit’s description and images shared by the company, Reddit Talk appears to look a lot like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and other social audio products. Talks will “live” within subreddits, according to Reddit.

  • On Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter made history as the first-ever aircraft to take flight on another planet. NASA’s Perseverance rover helped act as a communication guide for the $85 million helicopter’s autonomous remote flight, signaled by a crew 181 million miles away.

    • Until now, our knowledge of Mars has been limited by where rovers can drive. Scientists haven’t been able to get up close and personal with the planet’s canyons, volcanoes, and more. Rovercrafts like Ingenuity will change that. 

    • Perseverance rover also has successfully extracted oxygen from Mars' atmosphere, creating about 5 grams of oxygen, which is equivalent to about 10 minutes of breathable air for an astronaut.

So what happens now?

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

Carl Sagan, Astronomer, Planetary Scientist, Cosmologist

Only 24 people have journeyed far enough to see the whole Earth against the black of space. The images they brought back changed our world. Here is a selection of the most beautiful photographs of Earth — iconic images and unknown gems — digitally restored to their full glory.

Now it is up to you, and all of us to preserve and protect this beauty, our only home, with one small step at a time in our lives.

— That’s it for this edition. Explore amazing Sounds of Earth’s collection of ambient sounds of nature around the globe, that will help you relax, meditate and raise awareness for the protection and restoration of our ecosystems. 🌍 See you next month.