With the proliferation of fake news on the climate, published by specialized sites, false myths are fueled which can also manipulate some sections of public opinion, with the effect of delaying the fundamental policies of governments and companies to combat global warming and increase in natural disasters across the globe. Here are the ten most common false myths about climate change.
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“Throughout the history of our planet, the climate has changed continuously”
Our planet, which is 4.5 billion years old, has seen several climate cycles alternate. It has witnessed small and large ice ages and then returned to warm and mild climates in various areas of the earth, thus favoring the development of life.
The problem is that these movements occurred over several hundreds or thousands of years, while after human-caused industrialization the surge in record heat was noticed in just a few decades.
“Climate change is naturally caused by the sun”
It is true that solar activity influences the Earth’s temperature. But when measuring the impact of the sun, volcanoes and other aspects that influence the planet’s temperatures, the substantial component remains CO₂.
And scientists tell us that, since 1970, the average global temperature has increased at a sustained rate about 170 times the rate of the last 7,000 years. Furthermore, according to historical series, from 1870 to today the trend of the sun has led to a variation in global temperature of a maximum of 0.1 degree Celsius.
“It costs too much to reduce carbon emissions”
The ecological transition requires heavy investments and many skills, no one can deny it. But it creates many jobs and above all it will cost us less than the catastrophic scenario we would face if we did not work to lower the rise in average temperatures, as agreed in the Paris agreement. Thanks to these investments, the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people improves, especially in developing countries.
According to the Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the more we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the greater socioeconomic development will be in the long term. Ignoring the effects of climate change and continuing to live beyond our means, however, would result in the loss of up to 20% of global GDP.
“Greenland was once green and ice-free”
To support their thesis, climate deniers say that we should not be afraid of global warming because about a thousand years ago Greenland was also all green and not covered in ice like today.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The name Greenland actually derives from Grönland, which means “green land”, but because of a small end in the south of the island which still today has no perennial ice.
“Not even scientists agree on the causes of climate change”
In reality, more than 90% of climate experts and scientists agree that human activities are the reason for ongoing climate change.
To reuse a provocation launched by climate scientist Kate Marvel, who works at NASA’s Goddard Institute, “we are more certain that man-made greenhouse gases are causing global warming than we are about smoking as a cause of cancer.” An incontrovertible evidence.
“The climate crisis is China’s fault”
It is true that China is the country that emits the most greenhouse gases at the moment, just under a third of the world’s emissions. But if we look at the per capita share of CO₂ emissions we discover that each Chinese emits half the CO₂ emitted by every American.
If, therefore, we take the ranking of the countries with the highest per capita impact of CO₂ emissions we find Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia leading the group.
Furthermore, this is only the current photograph, while to have a correct vision we should calculate the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by each country from the industrial revolution onwards. And China certainly isn’t at the top of the list.
“CO₂ today is lower than in the past”
There are those who try to argue that we can continue to emit greenhouse gases, explaining that in the time of the dinosaurs CO₂ was higher than today. It is true that millions of years ago the level of CO₂ on the planet was higher than today. But it is also true that with that climate the development of life forms such as mammals, and therefore humans, was not possible.
Furthermore, if we take the last 2.5 million years, CO₂ has fluctuated between 290 ppm and 190 ppm, while today we are at 420 ppm and the level continues to rise.
“It’s late now, the planet still has a few years of life”
We often read in articles and reports that we have until 2030 or at most until 2040 to reverse the current trend, then the decline will begin which will bring the Earth and humanity to the end.
In reality, scientists agree on the objective of limiting the average increase in temperatures to a maximum of 1.5 degrees centigrade compared to the pre-industrial era, although it seems difficult to achieve this by 2030.
It is more likely that we will reach 2 degrees more, with many negative impacts on the air and ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine, but it will not be the end of the planet. It is certain, however, that the greater the increase in temperature, the more irreversible mechanisms we will have activated with our unsustainable behaviors.
“Plants and animals will adapt to new levels of CO₂”
It would be nice if it were true, but even plants have a limit to the CO₂ they can absorb. Even today, plants are able to absorb only 25% of the carbon dioxide created by human habits, while the rest ends up in the atmosphere every year.
Not even animals will be able to adapt quickly to a changed climate scenario: as history shows us, every major climate change has led to mass extinctions.
“Climate models are unreliable”
Those who want to discredit scientific research attack long-term climate prediction models. In reality, the first physical-mathematical models of the 70s and 80s were already reliable.
Recent research analyzed 17 projections of models disclosed between 1970 and 2007 and scholars discovered that 14 out of 17 models, beyond 80%, correctly anticipated temperatures and soaring greenhouse gas emissions. And with technological advancement, today we have much more precise and accurate forecasting systems.