Sunday, April 01, 2012

Global Warming & Climate Change Myths

Here is a summary of global warming and climate change myths, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, by popularity, in a print-friendly version, with short URLs or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references.

Climate Myth vs What the Science Says
1 "Climate's changed before" Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.
2 "It's the sun" In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions
3 "It's not bad" Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.
4 "There is no consensus" 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
5 "It's cooling" The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
6 "Models are unreliable" Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
7 "Temp record is unreliable" The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
8 "Animals and plants can adapt" Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.
9 "It hasn't warmed since 1998" For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.
10 "Antarctica is gaining ice" Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.
11 "Ice age predicted in the 70s" The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.
12 "CO2 lags temperature" CO2 didn't initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.
13 "Climate sensitivity is low" Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence.
14 "We're heading into an ice age" Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years.
15 "Ocean acidification isn't serious" Ocean acidification threatens entire marine food chains.
16 "Hockey stick is broken" Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.
17 "Hurricanes aren't linked to global warming" There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.
18 "Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy" A number of investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.
19 "Glaciers are growing" Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water.
20 "Al Gore got it wrong" Al Gore book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books.
21 "It's cosmic rays" Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.
22 "1934 - hottest year on record" 1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally.
23 "It's freaking cold!" A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.
24 "Extreme weather isn't caused by global warming" Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.
25 "Sea level rise is exaggerated" A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century.
26 "It's Urban Heat Island effect" Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.
27 "Mars is warming" Mars is not warming globally.
28 "Medieval Warm Period was warmer" Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.
29 "Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle" Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.
30 "Increasing CO2 has little to no effect" The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.
31 "Oceans are cooling" The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming.
32 "It's a 1500 year cycle" Ancient natural cycles are irrelevant for attributing recent global warming to humans.
33 "Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions" The natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any.
34 "Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas"

Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.

35 "IPCC is alarmist" The IPCC summarizes the recent research by leading scientific experts.
36 "It's not happening"

There are many lines of evidence indicating global warming is unequivocal.

37 "Polar bear numbers are increasing" Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.
38 "CO2 limits will harm the economy"

The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over.

39 "Greenland was green" Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer.
40 "Greenland is gaining ice" Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement.
41 "CO2 is not a pollutant"

Through its impacts on the climate, CO2 presents a danger to public health and welfare, and thus qualifies as an air pollutant

42 "Other planets are warming" Mars and Jupiter are not warming, and anyway the sun has recently been cooling slightly.
43 "There's no empirical evidence" There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming.
44 "Arctic sea ice has recovered" Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat.
45 "CO2 is plant food"

The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors

46 "We're coming out of the Little Ice Age"

Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming

47 "There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature" There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term.
48 "It cooled mid-century" Mid-century cooling involved aerosols and is irrelevant for recent global warming.
49 "CO2 was higher in the past" When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler.
50 "Satellites show no warming in the troposphere" The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.
51 "It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low" Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2.
52 "It's aerosols" Aerosols have been masking global warming, which would be worse otherwise.
53 "Global warming stopped in 1998, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010, ????"

Global temperature is still rising and 2010 was the hottest recorded.

54 "It's El Niño" El Nino has no trend and so is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
55 "There's no tropospheric hot spot" We see a clear "short-term hot spot" - there's various evidence for a "long-term hot spot".
56 "Mt. Kilimanjaro's ice loss is due to land use" Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases.
57 "It's Pacific Decadal Oscillation" The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
58 "It's a natural cycle" No known natural forcing fits the fingerprints of observed warming except anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
59 "2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells" A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.
60 "It's not us" Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change.
61 "Scientists can't even predict weather" Weather and climate are different; climate predictions do not need weather detail.
62 "IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers"

Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report.

63 "2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory" The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.
64 "Greenhouse effect has been falsified" The greenhouse effect is standard physics and confirmed by observations.
65 "CO2 limits will hurt the poor"

Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change.

66 "Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated" Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting.
67 "Clouds provide negative feedback" Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative.
68 "It's the ocean" The oceans are warming and moreover are becoming more acidic, threatening the food chain.
69 "IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests" The IPCC statement on Amazon rainforests was correct, and was incorrectly reported in some media.
70 "The science isn't settled" That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations.
71 "Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans" Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes.
72 "CO2 effect is saturated" Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat.
73 "Greenland ice sheet won't collapse" When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted.
74 "Corals are resilient to bleaching" Globally about 1% of coral is dying out each year.
75 "It's methane" Methane plays a minor role in global warming but could get much worse if permafrost starts to melt.
76 "CO2 is just a trace gas" Many substances are dangerous even in trace amounts; what really matters is the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
77 "CO2 has a short residence time" Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years
78 "Humidity is falling" Multiple lines of independent evidence indicate humidity is rising and provides positive feedback.
79 "Neptune is warming" And the sun is cooling.
80 "CO2 measurements are suspect" CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations across the globe, all reporting the same trend.
81 "Springs aren't advancing" Hundreds of flowers across the UK are flowering earlier now than any time in 250 years.
82 "Jupiter is warming" Jupiter is not warming, and anyway the sun is cooling.
83 "It's land use" Land use plays a minor role in climate change, although carbon sequestration may help to mitigate.
84 "500 scientists refute the consensus" Around 97% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming.
85 "Scientists tried to 'hide the decline' in global temperature" The 'decline' refers to a decline in northern tree-rings, not global temperature, and is openly discussed in papers and the IPCC reports.
86 "CO2 is not increasing" CO2 is increasing rapidly, and is reaching levels not seen on the earth for millions of years.

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