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Busting Climate Change Myths

What's true and what's not? Read on to see some climate change myths get busted.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

1: The Earth's climate has always been changing. That's what's happening now too.

Technically, the first sentence is true. The Earth's climate has always been changing and will continue to change. What is different right now is the unprecedented rapid rise in temperatures and CO2 levels. The type of changes one would expect to happen over hundreds of thousands of years are happening in decades. A 2016 study, published in Nature Geoscience, concluded that the rate of temperature rise is 10 times faster than that of the last mass extinction about 56 million years ago.

Click here for a list of evidence compiled by NASA on the significant changes in the climate.

2: How can global warming be real if it's cold outside?


Climate change and global warming refer to the broad temperature shift across the entire earth's surface over the course of years and decades. These changes make extreme and/or severe weather events more likely.

Weather is different to climate change - it changes a lot in the short-term (hour-to hour, day-to-day, etc.). Each part of the world will be affected by climate change differently. In some countries it may mean that hurricanes are much stronger and last a longer period of time; in other countries it may mean more extreme heatwaves. It varies.

An analogy to show the difference between weather and climate change is that weather is your mood and climate change is your personality.

3: Plants need CO2.

Although plants do need CO2 to live and they do so by absorbing it from the atmosphere, there is only so much CO2 they can absorb and this number is reducing as more and more forests are cut down across the globe.

The existence of CO2 in the air is not a problem. CO2 has always been in the air, the problem is the high concentrations of CO2 being produced by humans.

4: The sun is responsible.

The sun influences Earth's climate, yes. The Earth's tilt and orbit around the sun alters in predictable cycles. The way these cycles interact with each other causes gradual increases or decreases in the energy from the sun reaching the Earth. This can ease the planet into and out of ice ages and warm interglacials - which have happened in the distant past around every 100,000 years.

The rate of global warming we're seeing now, however, is too rapid and significant to be caused by solar activity and the Earth's orbit. In fact, for more than 40 years, satellites have been observing the Sun's energy output and it can be seen from the graph below that the energy output has been decreasing yet temperatures are still rising.

A graph from NASA's website plotting temperature against solar activity since 1880

5: Climate change is a future problem.

Nope. Across the globe, in 2021, we saw some eye-opening climate stories. Many countries have already started to see the effects of climate change and unless serious climate action is put into place, it'll only get worse.

Click here for a list compiled by Reuters of some of 2021's weather extremes.

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