Myths vs. Facts: Global Warming
For many of us, global warming is a given. Greta Thunber g’s Friday protests come up in our social media, we support fundraisers that try to save polar bears (without any action from humans, they will go extinct, currently there are only 22,000-31,000), and try to decrease our own environmental footprint as much as we can.
But this is not the case for everyone. Some people are still not convinced that this planet is having a bit of a situation. Interestingly enough, there is a high number of these people in developed countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Russia. An example of a huge country with a lot of people believing in the human-caused nature of the climate crisis is China. (Even if some might find it somewhat surprising.)
So what are the myths that the global-warming skeptics believe in?
“The Earth’s climate is an ever-changing thing.”
Is it true? Of course!
Over the course of the Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, the climate has changed a lot, that is absolutely true. However, there is something slightly alarming in our era: the new (and remarkable!) temperature growth rate. It is unprecedented. Here is some perspective. In the past 10 000 (ten thousand, now it is important, let that number sink in) years the temperature growth rate has only been +6 degrees Celsius. In our, if you may, contemporary time, in the past 100 years, this growth rate is +1 degree Celsius. That is +1 degree Celsius in every 1666 years on average.
Basically, our planet with us on it is warming up 16 times faster these days.
Connecting some dots, you can easily come to a straightforward conclusion: this much faster warming corresponds with levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which have been increasing since the glorious industrial revolution.
Going on at the same speed, we will pretty much boil ourselves (and the naysayers) alive.
“Climate change is natural. Human activity cannot be making it worse.”
Many things have happened since the 18th century. Humans have released tremendous amounts of CO2 from burning fossil fuels for energy. And more CO2 in the atmosphere means that more heat gets trapped, which causes climate change we are going through/ Of course, CO2 is not malignant, and plants do need carbon dioxide to live. As a matter of fact, plants and forests actually remove and store away huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
But the problem is, there’s only so much carbon dioxide they can absorb and this amount is getting less, as more and more forests are, unfortunately, cut down across the world, largely to produce our not-so-green food.
Let’s be clear: CO2 itself does not cause any problems. It is just a part of the natural global ecosystem. The real problem is the quantity of CO2 that’s being produced by us as humans. There hasn’t been this level of CO2 in the atmosphere for 800,000 years.
“A small change in temperature makes no diﬀerence.”
Ah, if only. It does, unfortunately.
Just +1 extra degree Celsius may sound like a really small amount. But small changes in temperature can correspond to enormous changes in the environment. What can one degree raise do?
Everything starts with melting ice caps. That result in more water (produced from the melting ice) and that leads to rising sea levels.
What follows is the destruction of corals. Sea level rise can cause increases in sedimentation for those reefs that are located near land-based sources of sediment. And sedimentation runoff can lead to the smothering of coral. Loss of coral equals loss of habitat for many water-based creatures. Including fish.
Further on, the temperature increase of +1,5 degrees Celsius can cause a higher frequency of intense weather fluctuations. Going further (and closer to +2 degrees Celsius) we are looking at an increased frequency of heatwaves and a higher possibility of heatstrokes. Yet another “small change” in temperature, resulting in +3 degrees Celsius can be absolutely devastating causing severe drought, water shortage, and irreversible changes for the climate.
Maybe the next time someone tells you that the “constant and natural” climate fluctuation is minimal and it is nothing to worry about, you could give provide them with the reasoning given above and offer them to make a small change in their diet that could be minimal but yet positively impactful for the climate of our one and only planet Earth. (If you want to find out more about which foods are the best and the worst for the environment, browse our Food & Environment section.)
- “Myths about climate change”. Alexander Chernokulsky. “Scientists against myths”
- National Climate Change Secretariat. “Myth vs Fact” published on 2015
- BBC, articales abou climate change
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