If you noticed your local weather reporters dressing like twinsies on Thursday, know that it’s not because they texted each other to coordinate their outfits the night before.
That striped pattern of red, white and blue is actually meant to raise awareness of climate change on the first day of summer.
It’s a particularly timely stunt, too, considering the contiguous United States just had its warmest May on record, the NASA scientist who sounded the alarm on climate change 30 years ago just told us we’re failing “miserably” at doing something about it, and a group of Republican senators just attacked the National Science Foundation’s grant program as “climate propaganda.”
The pattern was created by Ed Hawkins, a climate researcher at the U.K.’s University of Reading, as a way to visualize the Earth’s rising average temperature from 1850 through 2017. Cooler years are represented by blue tones, with white for normal temperatures and red tones for the hottest years.
It’s easy to see the overall trend with just a glance: The planet is getting warmer.
“This visualization removes all the distractions of standard graphs and allows the viewer to just see the long-term trends and variations in temperature without needing to interpret anything else,” Hawkins told The Washington Post last month.
After seeing Hawkins’ work, Jeff Berardelli, a meteorologist for a local CBS affiliate in Florida, was inspired to organize an event using the hashtag #MetsUnite.
In addition to one global average, Hawkins created several regional versions to illustrate temperature trends in the contiguous U.S., England and Toronto. (More, he says, are coming soon.)
The design is available from Zazzle on ties, mugs, pins and other items. Local meteorologists took time away from their green screens across the country on Thursday to explain their looks: