19 Things People Need To Stop Saying About Global Warming.
This article is based on "Global Warming & Climate Change Myths". If you're interested in reading more, check out the link at the bottom of the article.
"Global warming" and "climate change" are two buzzwords you'll hear thrown around on an almost daily basis. And without fail, after you use one of them, someone is bound to jump in and say "But it's not real!" Are they right? Is global warming really not happening? The scientists at Skeptical Science teamed up to break down some of the most popular misconceptions and claims about climate change.
1. But the climate has changed before.
Yes it has. There have been numerous fluctuations in the Earth's climate before, usually caused by greenhouse gasses. In cases where the global temperature increased rapidly it caused mass extinction. However for the first time humans are at the root of this problem -we emit copious amount of CO2 at a much faster rate that the Earth naturally emitted in the previous global warming events.
2. It's probably the sun.
Since the 1960s the sun has actually been cooling, while global temperatures continue to increase leading scientists to think that the sun's activity is unrelated to global warming.
3. Meh, it's not that bad.
Though there are some positive effects of global warming on plant and rainforest growth in the Amazon, the negative effects on the economy, food chain, agriculture, drinking water, and plant growth elsewhere can't be ignored. Developing countries will take the brunt of this chain reaction as they are less equipped to adapt and may become involved in disputes over limited supplies of water and food as some of the negative effects have more impact.
4. The science community doesn't agree on this.
In 2011 a study by the Skeptical Science team studied 12,000 papers published between 1991 and 1993 with the subjects "global warming" and "global climate change". Approximately 97% of them concluded that humans were the cause.
5. The Earth isn't heating, it's cooling.
The last decade was one of the hottest on record. It's important to take into account more than just air temperature (which may be what people think when they think "cooling"). There's also temperature over oceans, humidity, glaciers, and sea levels to consider when looking at global temperature increases.
6. Models are unreliable.
Climate models are mathematical representations of natural phenomenon like atmosphere and the sun to estimate climate trends. They're tested using a process like hindcasting where information is fed into the model from a previous decade to see if the model can accurately predict what will happen in the next 30 years, and then those conclusions are compared to what we know actually happened over those 30 years. Climate models have already accurately predicted many of the phenomena we've been seeing over the past few years.
7. The greenhouse gas effect has been debunked.
The greenhouse gas effect describes how the the surface temperature is approximately 33 degrees warmer than it would be if there were less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The first evidence for the gases were discovered by John Tyndall in 1859 who found that certain gases like carbon dioxide could trap heat. Without this effect the Earth would be like the moon - uninhabitable.
8. Animals and plants can easily adapt to changing temperature.
Human invasion of temperate forest areas and exploitation of fisheries and forests will have a catastrophic impact on biological diversity. A recent review concluded that 60% of the world's ecosystems are now degraded and extinction rates for some species are exponentially higher than they were hundreds of years ago. A team in the UK estimated that 18% of plant species and 35% of animal species will be doomed to extinction by 2050 due to climate change.
9. The hottest year in recent record was 1998 so the world isn't warming.
The hottest 12-month period ever recorded occurred from June 2009 to May 2010. Regardless, individual pockets of warmer or colder years mean little unless they're contextualized in a larger trend. The trend for 1997 to 2012 indicated that the temperature is increasing at .11 to .12 degrees per decade.
10. Scientists can't accurately predict the weather so they can't predict the climate.
Firstly, weather forecasts are very accurate and that accuracy has improved over the past few decades with the advance of technology. Secondly, climate and weather predictions are separate models. Climate predictions are designed to predict climate averages as opposed to weather models that predict specific changes in weather conditions.
11. In the 1970s we predicted that there was an ice age coming.
Approximately 10% of papers published about climate change in the 1970s predicted that the Earth was cooling. Temperature recordings at that time did show that the Earth was cooling leading some scientists to think that we may be approaching another ice age in the next few centuries. Using technology today we can conclude that this cooling trend was mostly in the northern hemisphere and the overall global temperature was fairly normal.
12. We cannot acidify the oceans to an extent that it could be measured, let alone have negative ramifications.
25-30% of CO2 emissions produced by humans are absorbed by the ocean. This does not mean that ocean water will turn to acid. It means that as acid levels increase, pH levels will decrease, leading to the dissolving of coral reefs and degradation of many oceanic species.
13. Al Gore got it wrong.
Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth premiered in 2006. Since then more data has come out that continues to support the findings he presented. There was one flat out error in the film - in one slide he misattributed the cause of Mount Kilimanjaro's shrinking to climate change when it was actually caused by deforestation. Contrary to popular belief, he was not prosecuted for any findings in the film. There was a civil court case in the UK regarding the film's distribution in schools which cited that the film was scientifically incorrect. The court settled that it could be shown.
14. The Medieval Warm Period was hotter than this.
The Medieval Warm Period (800-1400 AD) may have been warmer than the 2010s in several areas of the world, specifically in the North Atlantic where we see evidence that sea and land ice reduced in the Arctic allowing for Viking travel. Overall global temperature today is visibly warmer than global temperature at that time though. Also the Warm Period has been attributed to natural causes: increased solar radiation and decreased volcanic activity, which are different than the man-made causes of our current warming.
15. Extreme weather has always happened and isn't caused by global warming.
To some extent this claim is actually true. Extreme weather has always been reported. Rising temperatures do increase the odds of extreme weather events happening though.
16. Mars is also getting warmer.
We have no concrete data about the climate of Mars prior to the 1970s so it's impossible to say what trends are occurring or if there are, why they're happening. There physical geography of Mars and it's placement in relation to the sun are vastly different than Earth's so comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.
17. It's a 1500 years cycle.
The 1500-year cycle describes how warming in the northern hemisphere cyclically matches cooling in the southern hemisphere, however the overall temperature of the planet remains the same. The heat is simply being redistributed and is an entirely natural process. Global warming is not.
18. CO2 produced by humans is a tiny percentage of CO2 emissions.
It's the other way around: naturally occurring CO2 emissions are the tiny percentage. Atmospheric CO2 from natural land and ocean carbon is building up and additional CO2 is being produced by burning fossil fuels for electricity. Technically human output 29 gigatons of CO2 and the environment naturally outputs 750 gigatons of CO2 but the environment can only absorb approximately 40% of the additional CO2 we create, meaning all excess CO2 is caused by humans.
19. Humans aren't causing global warming.
Humans emit 29 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. As carbon is burned to create carbon dioxide, oxygen levels decrease. Fossil carbon, carbon from fossil fuels, builds up in the atmosphere and prevents heat from escaping to space. Instead the heat returns to the Earth and global temperatures increase. If the global warming was caused by a natural phenomenon like the sun we would have seen increases in temperature in both the upper and lower atmosphere, but in fact most of the heat is being trapped in the lower part.
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