Pour Cold Water over These Global Warming Misconceptions

By Jackl [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jackl [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Global warming is one hot issue. However, it’s also divisive and has so far failed to summon solid or near-unanimous efforts to be addressed. Some of the major reasons for this are the global warming misconceptions that continue to mislead many. There are people who continue to believe uneducated or unscientific knowledge in an attempt to shrug off calls to be more active in addressing the climate change or global warming issue. The following are some of these misconceptions that need to be clarified.

1. “What global warming? Can’t you see those frozen roads and lakes?”

This is one of the most common arguments of those who refuse to believe the existence of global warming. The belief that global warming is not true because of very cold winters is grossly misinformed. Weather does not equate to climate and the overall heating of the Earth does not necessarily make winters less icy and chilly. Scientists look at climate change over decades, typically around 30-year timeframes. In fact, global warming or climate change even bring about severe weather conditions. These can mean extremely cold winters and excessively dry and hot summers. Moreover, in some places, the melting of the polar ice caps can cause cold air to go to places that used to be relatively warm, making it appear to these places that the opposite of global warming is what is happening.

2. Climate change is just normal.

There are those who continue to believe that climate change is inevitable, that it happened before so it’s expectedly going to happen now and in the future. What these people fail to see is the fact that the human population is accelerating the change to alarming levels.  Normal change could be acceptable especially as the sun becomes hotter. However, with nature continuously producing trees that absorb greenhouse gases, such “normal” climate change is mitigated. With the presence of more humans, lands that could have been areas for plants and trees are cleared and leveled. With more humans inhabiting Earth, more greenhouse gas producing activities happen, from the manufacture of various products to the regular use of engines (cars in particular) that contribute the ever increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Climate change provides benefits to people in places that are less conducive to agriculture

Weighing all the negatives and positives, it’s easy to say that climate change brings more adverse effects compared to the consequences that can be considered beneficial. The longer growing seasons in some places are easily overwhelmed by the drought and harsh weather conditions experienced in other places. A recent report by Risky Business on the United States climate risk pointed out that by 2030, up to $3.5 billion in property will be in jeopardy and human health will suffer with the rise of sea level and environmental temperatures.

4. If C02 is the problem, it can be easily rectified by planting trees in the future.

Those who want to downplay the problem of climate change are quick to reason out that plants need carbon dioxide so it can’t be that bad. Of course, plants need this gas animals don’t need but it does not necessarily mean that having excessive levels of it will be good for plants. According to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, carbon dioxide could reduce crop yields. Besides, global warming or climate change is not just about carbon dioxide. The group of gases collectively known as “greenhouse gases” include methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and CFCs. Even water vapor is a greenhouse gas.

By Liam Gumley, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Liam Gumley, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5. Scientists contradict each other on climate change so why should lay people be that bothered?

Again, this is one of the common arguments of the misinformed. Almost all scientists in fact agree that climate exists. An examination of peer-reviewed scientific literature on climate change from 1991 through 2011 revealed that 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. Scientists only have disagreements in areas such as the extent of the crisis and the approaches in providing solutions. For instance, there are those who consider carbon capture technology as a neglected solution while others advocate for different approaches.

It’s important to acknowledge that there really is a problem with people abusing nature and not caring about the consequences. There’s a pressing need to shift to sustainable and renewable energy sources. What do we lose anyway if we prepared and climate change does not turn out to be as bad as projected?