Climate Change Myths
Myth: There is no consensus among scientists that Earth’s climate is changing.
Fact: An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that our climate is changing drastically. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises the U.N. on climate matters and draws on expertise from hundreds of top scientists, has concluded “that anthropogenic warming over the last three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems.” Moreover, numerous studies have demonstrated that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global temperatures have increased at an alarming rate since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Myth: We don’t know that human activity is responsible for climate change.
Fact: The IPCC and many other study groups have concluded that the current climatic changes have come as a result of external, not natural, forces. The greenhouse gases produced from human activity have led to the dramatic rise in global temperatures. The director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and the head of Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have stated that “There is no doubt that the composition of the atmosphere is changing because of human activities, and today greenhouse gases are the largest human influence on global climate.”
Myth: The benefits of global warming may actually outweigh the costs.
Fact: In the short-term there will be winners and there will be losers. For instance, farms and forests will be more productive at some latitudes, but less productive at others. In the long term, though, any possible benefits from global warming will be far outweighed by the costs. Increases in global temperatures, drought, flooding, and myriad other unnatural weather patterns will eventually disrupt newly profitable areas. There is no escaping the truth that unabated global warming will disrupt the lives of every human on the planet with catastrophic consequences.
Myth: We need to wait to act until we have more evidence
Fact: While there is a certain amount of acknowledged uncertainty concerning the science and economics global warming, this is certainly no reason not to act. Uncertainty cuts both ways: while it is possible that the impacts of global warming will be less severe than projected, but it is also possible that they will be worse. Most models for climate change predict a linear relationship between rising temperatures and impacts, which fail to account for quick, catastrophic events. The uncertainty of such events is hardly a reason to delay action. On the contrary, it is the greatest reason to act now. While we cannot be completely sure of impacts of climate change, when the fate of the world is at stake there is no better time to be safe rather than sorry.
Myth: We cannot afford to address climate change.
Fact: In reality we cannot afford NOT to take action against climate change. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, released by the British government, states that without preventative action climate change could lower global GDP by up to as much as twenty percent. A report released in 2004 by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change found that, as a result of climate change, U.S. GDP could fall by as much as three percent by 2100. More importantly, it states that “as climate change continues past critical thresholds, any benefits diminish and, ultimately, reverse as the U.S. economy struggles to adapt to the changing climate.