The subject of may or may not come up at a family gathering or a cocktail party. If it does, you might hear people debating some of the finer points of science, perhaps with little or no climate science background.
Skeptical Science is a science education group run by a global team of volunteers. It’s based on scientific literature that’s gone through the peer-review process, meaning the research has been subjected to scrutiny by other experts in the same field.
On its website, debunks many of the most common climate change myths, including these:
Myth: Sure the climate’s changing. It’s always changing and it’s changed before.
Mythbuster: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant force. In the past when the Earth’s temperature jumped abruptly, much as is happening today, it was caused by large and rapid greenhouse gas emissions, just like humans are causing today.
Myth: Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate.
Mythbuster: When we experience weather events like hurricanes and floods, it’s very easy for us to feel insignificant and powerless in the face of such massive natural forces. But since the industrial revolution, with ever-increasing supplies of fossil fuels, the activities of a dramatically expanding world population have made significant alterations to the makeup of our atmosphere. This is resulting in a change in weather patterns and ocean currents; the melting of global ice formations; and an increase in extreme weather events.
Myth: It’s the sun.
Mythbuster: Over the last 35 years the sun has shown a cooling trend. However global temperatures continue to increase. If the sun’s energy is decreasing while the Earth is warming, then the sun can’t be the main control of the temperature.
Myth: It hasn’t warmed since 1998.
Mythbuster: Every part of the Earth’s climate system has continued warming since 1998, with 2014, 2015 and 2016 breaking temperature records.
Myth: Computer models are unreliable.
Mythbuster: Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.
Myth: It’s not so bad.
Mythbuster: Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health and environment far outweigh any positives.
Myth: Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
Mythbuster: We commonly think of pollutants as contaminants that make the environment dirty or impure. A broader definition of pollutant is a substance that causes instability or discomfort to an ecosystem, such as the rising levels of human-caused CO2 are doing now.
Myth: There’s no consensus.
Mythbuster: There isn’t a political consensus, but there’s a scientific consensus. Authors of seven climate consensus studied have, depending on how exactly consensus is measured, found that somewhere between 90% and 100% agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of the studies finding of 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.
Myth: Scientists can’t even predict the weather.
Mythbuster: Weather and climate are different; climate predictions do not need the detail of a weather report. Climate models are not predicting day-to-day weather systems. Instead, they are predicting climate averages.
Myth: Mars is warming, too, and there are no humans there.
Mythbuster: There is little actual evidence that Mars is warming. We know the sun is not heating up all the planets in our solar system because we can accurately measure the sun’s output on Earth.
Follow James Bruggers on Twitter: @jbruggers
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