Climate Change Myths Debunked

    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trends during the 2000s  in the United States have concluded that the 1:1 ratio of high and low temperatures has been replaced by a 2:1 ratio, where every one low record was met by two high.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. 

Works Cited:

“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.

The Buzzkill of Climate Change

When most people think of bees, it is often accompanied by the thought of their taunting buzzing and hazardous stingers. However, the truth is that if you enjoy cucumbers, melons, oranges, apples, and of course, honey, as well as dozens of other fruits and vegetables, you rely on bees. In the United States, honey bees are responsible for 80% of commercial crops, contributing to pollinating many of the plants fed to cattle for the milk and meat industry as well. Essentially, bees are vital both for our needs and for the health of the environment. Yet, as climates rise, so does the fatality rate of the bee population.

How Does Climate Affect Bees? 

    As stated by the Smithsonian, something as colossal as climate change makes it difficult to pinpoint the reasons for the declining bee populations. However, it’s not a coincidence that bees have faced a 46% population decrease in North America and 17% in Europe from 1901 to 1974, mainly in areas with climates higher than average. Historically, bees have had a range of threats against them, including pesticides, habitat fragmentation, and human interference, with unfavorable temperatures just making it harder for bees to thrive. The main factors of climate change on these populations are a change in their phenology, loss of habitat, and disease.

Phenology

           – Phenology, the change in when something occurs, plays a role in bee populations because as temperatures begin to rise, snow melts faster, which brings the blossoming of flowers earlier than usual. However, conducted by Rebecca Irwin, an associate professor at Dartmouth College, it is unknown whether or not the bees are going to keep up with these changes. Plants and bees depend on each other, with plants needing bees to transfer pollen and bees needing plants to eat nectar. With climates changing so fast, plants will likely begin to bloom when bees are not active, trivializing both of them. 

Loss of Habitat

           –  Due to the fluctuating temperatures and changing phenology, bees are unable to adapt to warmer weather, making it difficult to find cooler homes. “They just aren’t colonizing new areas and establishing new populations fast enough to track rapid human-caused climate change,” remarked Jeremy Kerr, a professor at the University of Ottawa, theorizing that large changes in these populations are soon to come. Studies on bumblebee migrations show that in the north, bees struggle to make it to the North Pole, and in the Southern end, many end up dying. As a whole, bees have lost a range of almost 200 miles in North America and Europe. 

Disease 

             – Environmental stresses can make parasites even more accessible to honeybees, spreading deadly infections. Varroa mites and Nosema ceranae, since spreading around the US and Europe, have wiped out bee colonies and caused shorter lifespans. To link warmer climates and the spread of parasites, researchers made a model using information from a previous study of parasite infections. The model simulated how diseases would spread in different temperatures and, ultimately, the cold weather helped to block a widespread. 

Sources: 

Soroye, Peter, et al. “Climate Change Contributes to Widespread Declines among Bumble Bees across Continents.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 7 Feb. 2020, science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6478/685.

Worland, Justin. “Bees Habitat Loss: Study Shows How Climate Change Hurts Pollinators.” Time, Time, 9 July 2015, /time.com/3951339/bees-climate-change/. https://time.com/3951339/bees-climate-change/

Dattaro, Laura. “Here’s What Climate Change Could Do to Honey Bees.” VICE, 2 Dec. 2014, www.vice.com/en/article/gynewm/heres-what-climate-change-could-do-to-honey-bees.

Highcountrynews, director. Wild Science: Bees and Climate Change. YouTube, YouTube, 24 Aug. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qsoRkl6Njs.

Texas Climate Threats

Rising temperatures, melting ice caps, and blazing forest fires are all key phrases commonly associated with global warming, and rightfully so. Throughout past decades, global climate has been on the rise, creating unprecedented and irregular weather patterns throughout the world. However, a warming planet leaves peril in more ways than one, a feat that Texans are now facing.

What is Happening in Texas?

    Currently, Texas resides in the middle of a snowstorm, which is unlikely for its typically hot and humid climate. Despite several warnings of atypical weather changes by climate scientists, Texans were left ill-prepared for the snow and harsh weather which led to frozen power plants, power shortages in half the state, and a shutdown of water supply. Millions of citizens have been left to fend for themselves when it comes to heat and water in what Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, describes as “a disastrous level of under preparation.” As of February 18, it has been documented that Texas officials have done little for the people, giving inadequate responses, such as blaming the Green New Deal, despite it not yet being passed in Congress, or not giving a statement at all. 

The Connection to Global Warming 

    Failures in infrastructure, poor planning by officials, and rejecting weather warnings are all contributions to the current situation in Texas, but what does it have to do with global warming? The lead-up to the environmental disaster is a foreshadowing of other potential extreme weather events. “The future is not going to be like the past,” Co-director of the Rand Climate Resilience Center, Melissa Finucane said in reference to the changing weather. In the current age, the preparation against harsh weather that was founded in the 20th century is not durable enough to withstand into 2021. Electrical grids in the US are incapable of keeping up with weather changes for much longer as climate change poses a larger threat to communities of all kinds. 

Climate experts have gathered research connecting the snowstorm to global warming with rising Arctic temperatures. With the Arctic heating rapidly, cold air from the north pole can be pushed south, next to the US-Mexican border, proving that this is happening as a product of climate change, not in spite of it. Cold air is usually concentrated around the north pole in the polar vortex, which circulates in a tight formation during winter, though changes in the jet stream have since interfered. This change is thought to be due to the warming of the Arctic, letting air escape and shifting its position. If the vortex splits, snow and low temperatures become more common, explaining the fluctuation in Texas’ climate. 

Sources: 

Plumer, Brad. “A Glimpse of America’s Future: Climate Change Means Trouble for Power Grids.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/02/16/climate/texas-power-grid-failures.html.

“Texas’ Frozen Power Grid Is a Preview of Climate Change Disasters to Come.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-power-outage-storm-climate-change/.

“Heating Arctic May Be to Blame for Snowstorms in Texas, Scientists Argue.” Google, Google, www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/science/2021/feb/17/arctic-heating-winter-storms-climate-change.

Protect the Arctic

What is Going On?

Over the last few years, the state of the Arctic has fallen into deeper peril, with numerous species facing much danger. As of January 6th, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, home to land and marine animals, hundreds of bird species, and fish, is up for sale. In December, a lease sale was announced from the White House, selling off the Arctic Refuge for oil and gas. The agreement to sell the land has breached many rights, such as ignoring the indigenous Gwich’in people who live on the land, being responsible for rapid declines of caribou and polar bears, and being an addition to climate change. Thawing permafrost brings along a domino effect of detriment, including deforestation and destroying food chains. These agreements of threatening and destroying this land break the very definition of a refuge, a place that provides shelter and protection.

(Polar bear in search of food)

Who is it Affecting?

    The already declining state of the Arctic proves to be hazardous for the millions of species that inhabit it. The lives of many are at stake, with malnutrition running rampant among a number of species around the world. “The problem is that an ever-warmer future means polar bears will have less and less access to their seal prey, so…bears die from malnutrition/starvation…regardless of the proximate cause of this bear’s condition, this heart-wrenching footage provides us with a warning about the future,” Dr. Steven Amstrup, PBI’s chief scientist, details about the picture shown above. The featured polar bear, located on Baffin Island is a grim reality for the species across the world. The population of the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear, native to the refuge, has dropped by 40 percent in recent decades. With the disturbance of the Refuge, a vital sanction of protection will be stripped from the suffering species. Devastation of numerous lives is inevitable with the introduction to Donald Trump’s plan, including the theorized 1 in 5 bears that it will put at risk. 

(Thinning sea ice on Arctic shores)

What Actions are Being Made?

The NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council, Protectthearctic.org, and other sights have made petitions and letters for people to send,m requesting against the selling of the Arctic. As of December 29, 2020, 5 millions letters have been sent in protest. It is hoped, though not guaranteed that the letters will be able to stop further damage at the moment. However, there are other ways to help halt climate change in the Arctic though, with climate change accelerating two times faster than anywhere else, it is a need for urgent action.

Sources 

Protectthearctic.com. Environmental Importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, www.protectthearctic.org/environmental-importance-of-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge.

March 22, 2019 Clara Chaisson. “A Journey Through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” NRDC, 2 Oct. 2019, www.nrdc.org/stories/journey-through-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge.

“Trump Administration Pushes Forward With Plan for Illegal Lease Sale in the Arctic Refuge.” Sierra Club, 3 Dec. 2020, www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2020/12/trump-administration-pushes-forward-plan-for-illegal-lease-sale-arctic-refuge.

Vegan Diet on a Budget

In the past few years, veganism has become a staple for better health and environmental conservation, endorsed by celebrities such as Serena Williams, Beyonce, and Erykah Badu. However, for those without such luxurious budgets there are many misconceptions around the expense of the diet. Implementing a vegan diet into your lifestyle, whether permanent or intermittent, can be tailored to a wide variety of budgets, with the main essentials in veganism being grains, seeds, and legumes, often very affordable products. Transitioning into veganism mindfully can benefit both the body and the environment without breaking the bank.

1. Buy In Bulk 

    Buying basic vegan ingredients in bulk is an effective way to reduce a grocery bill, with nutritious items such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils, oats, and dried beans racking up the price per serving. Many of these essentials are non-perishable, so they are not quick to spoil and are very filling. In addition, canned products, such as vegetables, lentils, and fruits can also offer cooking help and ease the grocery budget. This does not only have to apply for shopping, but cooking as well. Pre-cooking and freezing meals offer a display of versatility, nutrients, and longevity that not only reduces the amount of money spent on groceries, but minimizes food waste as well. 

2. Purchase In Season

    Buying in-season fruits and vegetables plays a large role in reducing the cost and maximizing the benefits of fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are often sourced locally and have lower shipping cost, making them cheaper for the consumer. In addition, fewer shipping to local markets means more sustainable shopping. Farmer’s markets often offer a wide variety of in-season produce, including items that have a few blemishes, which can be bought in bulk for cheap.

3. Limit Vegan Substitutes

    Making vegan substitutes from scratch can be rather simple and much more affordable in comparison to the store bought counterparts. Black beans, mushrooms, canned jackfruit, and chickpeas are all effective substitutes in meat recipes, and are often inexpensive. Vegan substitutes are likely the biggest reason for the “veganism is expensive” argument, with many imitation products costing more than their real counterparts for less of the product. The Beyond Sausage by Beyond Meat retails for about 70% more than pork sausages at $10.30 per pound, exactly what to stay away from when shopping on a budget. Many recipes, such as burgers or even chicken wings, can be quickly and deliciously made at home with cheaper and more sustainable ingredients. 

4. Compare Grocery Stores 

    Some grocery stores carry more options for vegan items at a lower cost, which can make overall shopping more affordable. Oftentimes, Asian markets provide vegan necessities, such as coconut milk, tofu, miso, rice, and noodles, for a cheaper price and in bulk. While shopping at stores that offer speciality items, such as Whole Foods, it is easy to get lost in the selection and lose consideration for the price. Doing some research online at local stores can save money in the end.

5. Prepare Your Own Food

    As previously mentioned, there are easy vegan substitutes for every animal-based meal that can be completed with simple ingredients. From making vegan mayo to vegan shepherd’s pie, some research on recipes can go a long way when it comes to price. Many staple items are based around produce that is easily attainable and cheap, also giving you the benefit of knowing exactly what goes into your body and what changes you can make to satisfy your wallet and hunger. 

Sources: 

Bristol, Liam PritchettStaff Writer |, et al. “This Is How to Go Vegan When You Have a Tight Budget.” LIVEKINDLY, 10 Apr. 2020, www.livekindly.co/how-to-go-vegan-budget/.

“Which Is the Best Grocery Store for Vegans? (+Price Comparison!).” Serving Realness, 16 May 2020, servingrealness.com/best-vegan-grocery-store-pros-cons-price-comparison/.

“The 10 Best Vegan Meat Alternatives.” ProVeg US, 18 Nov. 2019, proveg.com/us/plant-based-food-and-lifestyle/vegan-alternatives/vegan-meat-alternatives/.

“Why Does Veganism Have an Expensive Reputation?” The Vegan Society, 27 Mar. 1970, www.vegansociety.com/news/blog/why-does-veganism-have-expensive-reputation.

CAPITALISM VERSUS CLIMATE CHANGE

In the modern era, capitalism, a system designed for production, and climate change, an ongoing environmental battle, have a less than perfect relationship. While individual activism plays an important role in the fight against climate change, it is hard to ignore the overriding exploitation of the planet by big businesses. 

Historically, capitalism has thrived off of exhausting natural materials and producing waste, destroying the ability of nature to replenish itself. It shows a major contribution to climate change, prompting a demand for urgent action through movements such as the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and the Green New Deal in America. Established in 2018, the Extinction Rebellion has sought out to implement policy changes through protest, wanting the government to take immediate action against climate change, similar to the desire for stimulus funding to green sectors by the Green New Deal. Though, costs for radical reforms rack up high prices, granting a gradual shift towards sustainability instead. 

Since 1998, more than 71% of greenhouse emissions can be rooted back to just 100 companies, as examined in a 2017 study.  Corruption of natural cycles such as carbon, water, phosphorus, and nitrogen, interrupt processes that take millions of years to complete. The central intent of maximizing corporations through the exploitation of materials such as forests, oil, rivers, and livestock, to fit into a “quick and cheap” agenda is a dangerous cycle that is hoped to be broken in the near future.  

The approach of this climate catastrophe is battled not only by movements, however, but by an increase of incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into companies. The emergence of ESG companies is hoped to have a steady incline, tending to be a better fit for longer investments while utilizing sustainable options. Environmental criteria consider the ability of a company to function through conservation and sustainable practices, while social criteria deals with the relationship of employees, customers, and suppliers, and governance examines leadership, executive pay, and shareholder rights. Firms with ESG principles are no longer ignoring the environmental detriment created by large companies, beginning to shift the view of capitalistic corporations to become more “green.” As the future of business begins to focus on sustainability, the development of economic growth needs to take into account the costs to uphold such social and environmental policies. 

The issues surrounding capitalism when dealing with the environment are in dire need of evolving to turn the fate of global warming around. Mass movements pushing for urgent action, hoping to reach a 2030 deadline, as well as an emergence of new sustainable businesses are promising, hoping for the calls of “green” measures to be amplified. The capitalist system has the capability to shift its focus from fast and easy profit to a more conscious eco-friendly perspective. With integrating economic and environmental interest into new capitalistic strategies, the question now turns to where policies and activism meet and how radical movements need to be in order to help reverse this environmental detriment. 

Sources: 

Noor, Saleha. “Why We Need to Change Capitalism for Climate Action: Earth.Org – Past: Present: Future.” Earth.Org – Past | Present | Future, 19 Aug. 2020, earth.org/change-capitalism-for-climate-action/.

Reyes, Farid. “Capitalism Is Responsible for Climate Change.” Left Voice, www.leftvoice.org/capitalism-is-responsible-for-climate-change.

Hyman, Elliott. “Who’s Really Responsible for Climate Change?” Harvard Political Review, 2 Jan. 2020, harvardpolitics.com/climate-change-responsibility/.

Hyman, Elliott. “Who’s Really Responsible for Climate Change?” Harvard Political Review, 2 Jan. 2020, harvardpolitics.com/climate-change-responsibility/.

Zitelmann, Rainer. “’System Change Not Climate Change’: Capitalism And Environmental Destruction.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 July 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/rainerzitelmann/2020/07/13/system-change-not-climate-change-capitalism-and-environmental-destruction/?sh=81f541d6d72a.