In recent years, the topic of global warming has become much less taboo, with the consensus of people understanding the severity of climate change. However, there are still many misconceptions and incorrect facts on the subject.
1. “The climate is always changing. This is no different”
Yes, the earth’s climate has constantly been changing during its 4.5 billion year lifetime. However, the unprecedented and rapid cycles of warming faced by the earth right now would normally be seen throughout hundreds of years, not decades. The regular intervals in which the earth usually warms and cools, demonstrated by Milankovitch cycles, are impacted by the tilt, rotation, and orbit of the earth and its effect on surface temperature and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The current rise of Co2 and warmer temperatures has illustrated what Milankovitch cycles describe of periods hundreds of millennia-long in a span of a hundred years.
2. “We are facing a period of global cooling”
It is a common misconception that just because winters are still cold that means that the world as a whole is cooling, but that is entirely untrue. While the world should be in a cooling period right now, there are new records of high and low weather being reached all over the world daily. If temperatures remained stable, there would roughly be the same number of highs and lows throughout the year. Temperature trends during the 2000s in the United States have concluded that the 1:1 ratio of high and low temperatures has been replaced by a 2:1 ratio, where every one low record was met by two high. That ratio only continues to rise, as by 2012, it was pushed to a staggering 5:1.
3. “Not all scientists agree on climate change”
While it is true that not every single scientist shares the same views of climate change, there is an overwhelming agreement on the topic. Research on Anthropogenic Global Warming in Scientific Literature has examined the peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change from 1991 to 2011, and of those papers, only 2% (83 papers) denied climate change, while 97% (3,894 paper) found evidence to back up the existence of a human-caused climate change. While there is also not a unified agreement that humans are the cause of climate change, surveys of the 97% of scientists that feel that humans have a large impact on climate change have shown to have the greatest expertise among those scientists.
4. “Plants need CO2 so it cannot be a cause of climate change”
Plants do need CO2 to live, absorbing much of the carbon dioxide in the air to thrive, but there is a limit to how much they can store. With an increase in deforestation in the past years, there are even more limitations to how much CO2 can be absorbed. CO2 alone does not pose a threat to the climate, it is the large amounts that are being produced by human beings. The production of CO2 is natural to the global environment however, this level of CO2 has not been reached in the last 800,000 years. It is largely recognized by scientists that mass greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are one of the number one causes of climate change and the most common of these gases are methane and CO2.
5. “It is too late to do anything now”
One of the most common and dangerous myths out there is that there is nothing humans can do to ease the impact of climate change. Right now is a critical time to take action against rising climates to achieve net carbon emissions by 2050. We have better access to the technology and systems needed to transition to clean energy than ever, meaning that with time climates will be able to become stable again. Although it will take time and effort, achieving regulated climates can be done in the future.
“10 Myths about Climate Change.” WWF, www.wwf.org.uk/updates/10-myths-about-climate-change.
“6 Myths about Climate Change Busted.” National Grid Group, www.nationalgrid.com/stories/journey-to-net-zero-stories/6-myths-about-climate-change-busted.
“10 Myths About Climate Change: Earth.Org – Past: Present: Future.” Earth.Org – Past | Present | Future, 25 June 2021, earth.org/myths-about-climate-change/.
Karl Burkart Director of Innovation and Technology, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. “Top 6 Climate Myths.” Before the Flood, 21 Oct. 2016, www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-deniers/top-climate-myths/.
“Myths vs. Facts: Global Warming.” OSS Foundation, 6 Apr. 2014, ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths.