If you’ve ever been in a discussion concerning climate change, chances are you’ve encountered some arguments on what science really has to say about the issue. Although some of these scientific claims sound logical or make sense, many of them are inaccurate or misleading.
Misinformation and misconceptions have become too popular that government institutions end up addressing the myths. For instance, in 2020, NASA publicly addressed the myth that the sun’s output may trigger another ice age.
Climate scientists have been debunking myths such as this for many years now. Sadly, these myths persist due to disinformation campaigns, which stir doubts and panic among the public. As a result, there are delays in response to climate change.
Myths are harmful to the progress of resolving climate change. Instead of believing in misinformation, be in the know.
Here are some common myths concerning climate change and what science has to say about them.
Myth: Carbon Dioxide Levels are a Tiny Part of the World. They Can’t Impact Us.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) does make up a tiny part of the Earth’s atmosphere (a tenth of a percent only). But its heat-trapping greenhouse properties prove that it can still make a huge impact on our world.
Currently, the Earth’s CO2 levels maintain an average temperature of 60°F. If the CO2 levels dropped to zero, our planet’s average temperature would drop to the point that it freezes over extremely.
A drop in CO2 levels may not directly cause a drastic drop in temperature. It’s all about the abundant greenhouse gasses, which condense out since cold air holds less water vapor. The growth of an ice cover may cause the temperature to plunge more.
Myth: It’s the sun’s fault.
The different energy intensities from the sun have driven long-term climate changes, but the sun isn’t always to blame for the recent spikes in temperature.
The Earth’s orbit and tilt around the sun varies in predictable cycles. How these cycles interact with each other causes gradual decreases or increases in energy. These changes in energy can gradually ease in the Earth in and out of the ice age.
However, the recent temperature spikes have been happening faster, with the majority of these spikes occurring over the past few decades. At the same time, the sun is going in the opposite direction, which drastically impacts the temperature.
Myth: Climate change is natural.
Scientists will agree that the climate changes naturally. It will always change.
But what makes the recent climate changes stand out is the pace of the change.
The current human-caused carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past years. According to a 2016 Nature Geoscience study, the rate of temperature rise is 10 times faster compared to 56 million years ago.
According to science, the climate changes naturally for many reasons. One example is the long-term sunlight fluctuations due to the Earth’s orbital changes. This leads to volcanoes releasing sun-dimming ash, which cools the Earth’s surface.
However, none of these natural climate changes can explain the spike in temperatures since the 1800s. But the field of physics has an explanation for the recent warming episodes. The culprits are heat-trapping greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels.
Myth: It’s cold outside so global warming is not a thing.
The Earth can warm up and become cold at the same time. However, cold weather is often considered evidence against climate change. Oklahoma’s Senator Jim Inhofe infamously denied climate change by tossing a snowball in Congress during a cold winter day.
There is a big difference between climate and weather.
When scientists use the term “climate change” or “global warming,” they are referring to massive temperature shifts across the surface of the Earth over the course of years. On the other hand, “weather” refers to short-term daily variations in different locations.
Think about it this way: climate is your personality, and the weather is your mood.
Simply put, global warming doesn’t prevent the Earth from getting cold; it can make the planet colder or not.
Myth: Temperature records are rigged
Another common discussion among climate change skeptics is either “the temperature records are rigged” or “the records are unreliable.”
Either argument would be plausible if science simply relied on a record or two.
However, various independent bodies worldwide have produced many independent temperature records. Despite the differences in who’s producing what record, the data remains consistent.
These organizations include the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, NASA, the Japanese Meteorological Service, NOAA and the UK Meteorological Service. While each organization has its own methods for data analysis and processing, the records remain in sync.
Climate change is a REAL phenomenon. Listening to myths can be dangerous, especially if it leads us to do nothing. So instead of believing in myths, arm yourself with facts.