It is time to debunk some of the most frequently heard myths about climate change. This post will be short, sweet and very informative!
Myth 1 – The Earth’s climate has always naturally fluctuated
- It is true that the Earth’s climate has changed over 4.5 billion years. The issue is the rapid warming that we are seeing, not the warming in general.
- Milankovitch cycles causes climate change over thousands of years, but current warming is occurring at a much faster pace.
- Global temperatures are currently at the highest levels since records began and 17 out of 18 of the warmest years on record have happened since 20011.
- This warming corresponds with increasing levels of carbon dioxide.
Myth 2 – Climate change isn’t a current problem
- In 2018, the UN concluded that we only have 12 years to avoid a climate catastrophe.
- We are already seeing enhanced warming in the Arctic, with some parts of Siberia 5°C above long term average in the first half of 2020. Arctic sea ice was at its second highest ice loss extent in 20202.
- Sea Ice loss leads to global sea level rise, threat of species extinction, permafrost thawing and much more.
- Further evidence is shown by a record level number of hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2020, and vast wildfires in Australia, the US and South America.
- Further US based evidence can be found here – https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.12/infographic-climate-change-20-signs-in-2020-that-the-climate-crisis-has-come-home-to-roost
Myth 3 – Animals can adapt to climate change
- Some plants and animals will adapt, but many will struggle with the rapidly changing climate.
- Animals have the choice to either migrate, or adapt. If they are unable to do either then the species will be lost.
- Almost a third of known species are at risk of disappearing, climate change is responsible for 8% of threatened species extinction3.
- Major threats include pollution, invasive species and habitat loss.
Myth 4 – China is the only country responsible for climate change.
- It’s true that China contributes substantially to the impeding threat of a climate breakdown. China emits 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but other big contributors such as the US (13%), EU (8%) and India (7%) must remain accountable4.
- 72% of China’s emissions are essentially the responsibility over overseas companies and countries were products and exported and purchased by consumers5.
- China is currently one of the largest investors on renewable energy.
- Transparency and accountability by all is most essential here.
Myth 5 – But it’s cold outside?
- One particularly cold week does not mean that there’s not a long term trend of increasing global average temperatures.
- It is this long-term average which is most important.
- By 2070 we project that winter will be between 1 and 4.5°C warmer and up to 30% wetter6. Therefore ‘cold snaps’ are not expected to affect this significant change in climate.
Climate change has been extensively studied and the conclusions are clear. Humans are driving climate change through activities which release carbon dioxide, such as burning fossil fuels, in order to sustain the modern human lifestyle. Hopefully this article has been somewhat informative and prevented the sharing of further misleading claims!
1: WWF. 2018. Available at: https://www.iberdrola.com/environment/climate-change-endangered-species
2: Milman, O. 2020. Available at: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/greenhouse-gas-emissions-transforming-the-arctic-into-an-entirely-different-climate/ar-BB1bKdb0.
3: Iberdrola. 2017. Available at: https://www.iberdrola.com/environment/climate-change-endangered-species.
4: Ge, M. and Friedrich, J. 2019. Available at: https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/02/greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-country-sector.
5: Jun, M. 2019. Available at: https://time.com/5669061/china-climate-change/.
6: Met Office. N/A. Available at: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/climate-change/effects-of-climate-change.