15 Myths and Facts on Climate Change

Today, climate change is the major environmental problem facing the globe. Climate change is the change in Earth’s surface temperatures mainly due to burning of fossil fuels that produce large amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, “Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years)”. Here are 15 myths and facts on climate change that may surprise you. Not everything that has been used as an argument for climate change has its basis in fact.

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Myth 1: This century’s rise in average global temperature is going to cause, and has caused, all the increased storm activity and intensity.

Fact: Weather patterns ebb and flow just like everything else in life. Global warming and cooling is a part of the natural force that drives cyclical weather patterns. As we enter into a normal and predictable spate of intense storms, the issue is that these storms disrupt how our societies work, and carry pollution farther that threatens the vegetation on which all these natural systems rely.

Myth 2: The sea is rising to dangerous levels that threaten all life and it is all man’s fault.

Fact: Again – no. What science has discovered is that in the same way that the volume of the polar ice caps change – so does sea level. There is no detectable influence of man on the change in sea level. Like with the ice caps, we have spent a century constructing a world based on an assumption that sea levels are static, and they are not.

Myth 3: Is Antarctica Gaining Ice?

Fact: There are widespread rumors that Antarctica and glaciers around the world are gaining ice contrary to the belief that global warming is melting the ice caps. According to Skeptical Science, Antarctica is gaining ice frequently hinge on an error of omission, namely ignoring the difference between land ice and sea ice. It says, “Antarctic land ice is the ice which has accumulated over thousands of years on the Antarctica landmass itself through snowfall. This land ice therefore is actually stored ocean water that once fell as precipitation. Sea ice in Antarctica is quite different as it is ice which forms in salt water primarily during the winter months. When land ice melts and flows into the oceans global sea levels rise on average; when sea ice melts sea levels do not change measurably.”

Myth 14: Climate change is good for us.

Fact: Climate change could mean longer growing seasons and some may point to history as evidence that suggests that warm periods are good for people. But, when seen for large perspective, droughts, storms, floods, shifting of seasons, rising of sea levels outweigh the positives. The global increase in surface temperatures could cost U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars within the next few decades.

Myth 4: Climate change is all about man-made pollution and what happens on the Earth.

Fact: Wrong again, the single greatest cause of change within the past decade is attributed to changes in the sun. The sun’s effect on gravitational tension and atmospheric radiation levels has caused over 50% of the measurable rise in the AGT over the past decade.

Myth 5: We need to radically restrict CO2 emissions to prevent human caused warming that can be catastrophic.

Fact: We need CO2, in fact the more the better in some ways. All life is reliant on CO2 in order to grow. There is no evidence that human output would ever cause more than a 10 C rise in AGT and combined with the natural predicted rates, it is all still within the range of being handled. The CO2 production isn’t really the problem, it is the destruction of helpful plant life that promotes the effective use of CO2 to make room for more human industriousness that is the real issue.

Myth 6: Any warming over 20 C for a century will have devastating effects on all life on Earth.

Fact: Over the course of a century the Earth averages plus or minus within the raise of 20 C, so it really is business as usual. Nothing unusual here, unless the rate of change is interrupted by higher levels of pollution and further deforestation. Then the natural way that the Earth handles warming and cooling is impaired.

Myth 7: Computer models definitively predict warming over the next century that will raise the AGT by 60 C.

Fact: Yes they do. Other computer models also predict cooling to the same intense degree. When taken together both models and approaches reflect a continuation of the natural cycle of climate change that is not out of the range of the normal course of events. The cause for concern happens when you begin to introduce elements based upon a continuation of man-made interruptions.

Myth 8: The Mann curve shows that the rate of change in global temperature has been increasing radically since the industrial age and is predicted to see an increase in AGT of several degrees over the next century.

Fact: If you are still using the Mann curve then you are not keeping up with findings. That curve was debunked as a contrived method to deliver statistics “by design.” The new formulas show no evidence that the climate before the 1900s was unchanging, nor does it predict a mass rise in temperatures on a consistent pattern for the next decade.

Myth 9: The 20th century saw the greatest period of increase in the AGT due to the industrial age.

Fact: Wrong again, within the past 100 years the warming and cooling (the AGT measures both and there should be a balance) shows no more or less change in AGT then is expected. It is the turn in the past decade to a change-less result that is of concern. While the industrial age definitely has had an impact on climate change, it may not have resulted in the warming or cooling that people expected – but a lack of it. That then changes weather patterns too.

Myth 10: The past few years have seen the greatest rise in the average global temperature (AGT).

Fact: The past decade or so has seen more of a stabilization in the average global temperature than ever before. While this is often latched on as proof that climate change is not happening the opposite is true. The trend and prediction models point towards climate change as a natural process with a steady rate of occurrence. The fact that is has stopped going up or down means that process has become interrupted and that is of great concern.

Myth 11: CO2 can’t be dangerous as plants need it.

Fact: Agreed. But too much of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can hurt crops and they may became less nutritious. Extreme heat and precipitation levels too can upset crop yields.

Myth 12: Global warming has stopped and Earth has began to cool.

Fact: Another myth that can be heard about climate change is that it hasn’t warmed since 1998. However, the trends indicate that the period from 2000 – 2009 was hottest on record. For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.

Myth 13: Climate change has happened in the past so this is normal too.

Fact: Yes, climate has changed in the past and in fact it is always changing. We have had seen ice ages and hotter periods in the past despite the CO2 levels being lower than what are they right now. It happened due to natural factors in the past, but today its because of increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As of today, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest of all in the human history.

Myth 14: Its the Sun which is responsible for global warming.

Fact: In the last 35 years, the sun has shown slightly cooling trend though global temperatures have been increasing. Scientists say that both Sun and climate have been going in opposite directions and it is not right to blame the sun for the for the global warming.

Myth 15: Not everybody agrees on climate change.

Fact: About 97% of the climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and human activities are to be blame for it. According to Skeptical Science,”In the scientific field of climate studies — which is informed by many different disciplines — the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change — and that’s nearly all of them”.

You may be surprised to see that most of these myths would be considered arguments for belief in global change. That is true, it does no one any good to come to believe something based upon fear based myths. Global change is a natural event, but what we do has the potential to disrupt the capacity of nature to handle its own cycles of change.

What is the biggest block to creating effective policy?

As you saw in the last few myths and facts presented a lot of the issue comes from our creating an industrial society that is based on two wrong assumptions:

  1. The Earth is unchanging.
  2. The Earth naturally replenishes its resources.

As with the debate about alternative energy, it is only now that we are realizing that it isn’t that the Earth doesn’t replenish its fossil fuels, but that it needs several thousands of years to do so. The same is true with the vegetation and all that plays such an important role in managing the natural process of climate change.

If we can change our consumption levels we are changing our assumptions about how humanity relates to the natural world. It is not “our resource,” but we are part of “its process.” To make that transition we need to learn how to adapt to these changes just like all the other animals in the world. It is challenging because it directly contradicts our global belief that everything exists for our needs. If we don’t change our assumptions, there won’t be much left to support our needs in the future.

Photo by: Angela Sevin , Ian Britton
Sonia Madaan

Sonia Madaan

Sonia is a High School Graduate and Runs the Writing and Editing Team for EarthEclipse.com. She is Extremely Passionate about Environment, Technology and Computing.
Sonia Madaan