The Earth is the Hottest It’s Been in 11,000 Years

By the end of this century, temperatures around the globe are on track to be the hottest at any time since the last ice age. A new study in Science magazine says that, from the 19th century on, emissions from extensive burning of fossil fuels have led to temperatures rising to levels nearing those 5,000 years ago and to even higher levels.

After stabilizing at relatively warm temperatures in the Holocene Age some 10,000 years ago, the earth’s climate plateaued until around 5,000 years ago. From 1450 to 1850 B.C.E., a long and slow cooling trend began, the result of shifts in the amount of incoming sunlight. There was a “brief spike” (as the New York Times puts it) in the Middle Ages, the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings settled Greenland; this ended as the cooling trend returned.

In fact, the Northern Hemisphere would be on course to freeze over in several thousand years and to go back towards another ice age, but the Industrial Age has changed and seemingly reversed this. The earth has been as hot as it now is before but with one significant difference: the rise in temperatures is now occurring at an “exceedingly rapid clip on the geological time scale.”

As study author Shaun Marcott, a climate scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, tells the New York Times, if this increase in temperatures continues, the earth is likely to become even warmer than it was at the start of the Holocene, some ten thousand years ago.

How Do You Figure Out How Hot It Was 11,000 Years Ago?

Since we only have records from scientific instruments from the 19th century, scientists rely on data from tree rings and isotope ratios from formations in caves to determine temperatures in the distant past. But these can only tell us so much, says Nature.

For the Science study, Marcott and another researcher looked at data from 73 other sets of records. These included measurements from sediments cores drilled from the bottoms of lakes and seas around the world, including Antarctica and Greenland. The scientists measured ratios of magnesium and calcium ions in the shells of microscopic creatures who had fallen to the very bottom of the ocean floor.

From all of this, Marcott and his colleague found that average global temperatures rose and then plateaued between 7550 and 3550 B.C.E. A cooling trend followed but, from the start of the 20th century till now, average temperatures have gone from their coolest point to what is among their hottest and at a “dramatic clip.”  In our lifetimes, the average temperature anywhere on earth has been higher than these have been for about 75 percent of the past 11,300 years.

The Industrial Age, though a blip in time relative to earth’s existence, has made the planet hotter than ever. If we keep consuming oil and other fossil fuels for energy at the same rate, the earth is on the track to be the hottest in its long history — and a hotter than ever earth could put the survival of numerous species, including our own, at risk. It is (excuse the irony) a chilling thought to think that, in just around two to three hundred years, we have not only reversed the cooling trend the earth was on, but are setting it on a course to break the records for all time.


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Photo from Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

some people are so painfully ignorant. Global warming is obvious and real, and even if it were NOT what would it HURT to treat our world better?

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper5 years ago


Mark Donners
Mark Donner5 years ago

It's typical of the infinite stupidity of exhibited by Ken M. and ".." beliefs, that if you pump 20 billion tons of EXTRA CO2 beyond the natural buffer of the earth's ability to recycle and absorb into the atmosphere yearly, somehow that gas will magically disappear into some wierd republican zone of primitive supersititious belief. News for primitive-brained self-centered ignorants, CO2 doesn't magically disappear, it has to go somewhere, and it factually lingers in the upper atmosphere for an average of 100 years acting chemically as a greenhouse gas..yes that's called HUMAN caused warming in an accelerating catastrophe for the earth. The work of non-human organisms took two billion years to make earth's land masses viable for plants and animals by removing the deadly mix of mostly carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replacing that with life giving oxygen. Plants and animals have maintained that balance ever since..until the cancer of humanity showed up. And humans the most ignorant, evil and disgusting species that ever lived are reversing that situation and trying to make the earth a toxic wasteland.

Elle B.
Elle B5 years ago

Choosing to believe recent rapid global warming has nothing to do with human activities. . .does not dismiss the very observable fact that those in human bio-forms are still trashing the planet 24/7 in the most careless, greedy, depraved and wretched of manners. . . this would ultimately result in a completely compromised biosphere. . .except nature itself does not suffer from a case of infinite stupidity as multitudes of human types do. . .and will most certainly remedy the imbalances that are the result of widespread and massive human dysfunction and confusion. . regardless of it. . .NOTE: just the hot air alone coming out of so many mouths could cause significant rises in planetary temperatures. . .

“It isn't that they can't see the solution. It's that they can't see the problem.” ―G. K. Chesterton

“We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone's arguing over where they're going to sit.” ―David Suzuki

“The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.” ― Voltaire

"The best thing that can be said of it is, that it is a sign of the intellectual narrowness—in plain English, the stupidity which is still the average mark of our culture.” ―George Eliot

"Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher education positively fortifies it." ― Stephen Vizinczey

And I'll stick with the

Ernest Roth
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Brian F." History will correctly judge republicans as the most ignorant fools in the history of the United States" .That depends on who writes the history. Maybe Texas?

Laura Saxon
.5 years ago

I believe it. It was very hot last summer here in Florida.

.5 years ago

What utter poppycock. It was warmer in the 1920-1940 period when the Dust Bowl happened and Prairie topsoil blew off toward Europe in great dark clouds. Why do you folks allow yourselves to be taken in by the Carbon Mafia whern the actuality is that the planet has greened up due to extra CO@. It's plant food, not poison. You exhale it, remember?

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak5 years ago

Well, if you own beach front property, sell it to a climate change denier.