Climate Change Myths Demystified
Here’s the situation – you’re at a family gathering with all your relatives, and all of a sudden your great aunt or uncle drunkenly exclaims that Climate Change is a myth. What an awkward moment. All your relatives pick sides and the argument starts to get heated. Both sides are coming out with facts that are ostensibly scientific. But which ones have the scientific stamp of approval, have been through the rigorous peer-review process and been confirmed to accurate and insightful. Well, if you wish to find this out, continue reading. Here, I will be running through three of the most common Climate Change myths and discussing what science really says.
Myth 1: “It’s snowing outside, so how can Climate Change be real?”
This myth has flummoxed even one of the most powerful people in the world – Donald Trump. On his twitter in 2019, he posted “[w]ouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” in response to the large area of cold weather that was causing chaos over the U.S.
The confusion here is confounding climate and weather: two related but different things. Weather is what is happening in the short term – what the atmosphere is like at a specific point in time. Climate is the long term. What is the average weather conditions that are experienced in this region: how much rain is expected; hottest and coldest temperatures etc.
Climate Change does not mean that cold weather cannot exist. But rather, cold weather is less and less likely to happen. And those awful too hot warm days, they are going to become more and more common.
Myth 2: ‘The climate has changed before, this is all just natural’
You’re absolutely right about this one. That is, if you are talking about Climate Change of the past, and not today’s much more rapid climate change. In the past, we have seen ice ages come and go, changing the climate of the entire globe. These mighty changes in our climate are caused by changes in our planets orbit around the Sun – the Milankovitch cycle. It would be easy to think that this might be what is causing the current changes in our climate. But it’s not. We know this because the motion of our planet is monitored by billion-dollar top-of-the-line scientific equipment. What has been found, is that there is no change that can explain the current warming trend. In fact, long-term (thousands of years) climate trends suggest that we should be cooling.
Myth 3: ‘CO2 makes up such a small part of the atmosphere, how could that change the entire planet? ‘
Small things can have a big impact: it can only take 4 milligrams – or one-thousandth of a teaspoon – of cyanide to kill a person. CO2 might be in small amounts in our atmosphere, but it is a potent warmer of the atmosphere.
What science does say about Climate Change is that it is definitely caused by human emissions. The gases that we emit prevent infra-red radiation from leaving our planet. They reflect this radiation back down the surface, causing our planet to heat up. And we are releasing these greenhouses gases by the truckload. Actually, a truckload is too small a measurement – we are releasing greenhouse gases on a planetary scale.
Climate Change, being the hot topic that it is, has resulted in many confusions arising. I hope this post has helped to clear up a few of the facts and will help in any future arguments with relatives, friends or even a stranger on the tram who tries to tell you that Climate Change is a myth. The cold (or hot) hard truth is that Climate Change is real, and it is here to stay unless we get our act together.