Myths surrounding climate change have become prevalent in today's discourse, giving skeptics a false sense of certainty in their rally against climate action. How do we discern fact from fiction in the climate debate? In anticipation of Pope Francis' climate Encyclical, Caritas Internationalis (A Catholic based coalition of faith leaders) have created a list of the eight most common myths about climate change, in order to set the record straight.
Addressing everything from the ‘natural cycle' myth, to the absurd declaration that, ‘global warming is good for us,' Caritas, an organization that focuses primarily on disaster relief, has provided clear, easy to read rebuttals to stamp out misconceptions about climate change.
MYTH 1: Scientists can’t agree on whether global warming exists.
FACT: The vast majority of scientists agree that human activity is responsible for global warming. They also agree that the climate is being changed by human activity.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is considered the leading authority on the science of climate change. It consists of 2,000 scientists from over 150 countries. Its report released in 2013/14 – the Fifth Assessment Report (‘AR5’) – provides the most detailed and up-to-date view of the state of our climate. The findings of the IPCC are agreed upon by all 195 countries that make up its membership.
MYTH 2: It’s just part of natural change.
FACT: The climate has changed throughout the earth’s history but the huge changes happening to our climate today are not due to natural causes. Natural variations happen over millions of years. Scientific research shows us that the last ice age ended around 11,000 years ago and since then the earth’s climate has been relatively stable at an average of around 14°C.
However, over the course of the last century our climate has started to change rapidly, with an unusual increase in global temperatures, accompanied by extremes of weather. There is overwhelming scientific evidence from the IPCC that suggests this is due to increased amounts of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses occur naturally in the atmosphere but human activity, such as burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, increase them.