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The Myths: Climate Change

Here are our answers to eight common misconceptions around climate change. We hope we are able to clear up some of your questions to do with the issue. To request more information, Contact Us with your questions.

  • "There is just as much evidence against climate change as there is for, the media is just biased."

    As for any debate or theory, there are opposing views. Concerning climate change, it often seems like all sources of information are supporting climate change, and that opposing arguments are never touched upon. This may seem to be a matter of bias. However, this is actually because the majority of scientific reports find evidence, and eventually conclude, that climate change is very real. There are very few scientific reports that conclude climate change isn't caused by humans, and even fewer that conclude climate change isn't real. Many of the reports that fit into this category are outdated or endorsed by companies, and thus unreliable. In fact, according to the AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change (2014), "Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening".

  • "I can't do anything to help with climate change."

    This myth around climate change is quite damaging, as it creates this idea that one has no responsibility around climate change. Although large, systemic changes to fight climate change can mainly be made by those in power, individuals can also make a difference. The average american has a carbon footprint of 16 tons, according to The Nature Conservacy. By making changes to ones lifestyle, this number can be slowly reduced. Furthermore, an individual can create a 'ripple effect' within their community and reduce emissions to an even greater extent. Check out our Initiatives page to find out how you can help.

  • "Climate Change is just a way for the government and businesses to sell more products and make more money."

    There are many products out there that are designed to create a more sustainable lifestyle. So is climate change a way for the government and businesses to make money? The simple answer is no. Sustainable products are often more expensive to make, and thus businesses often actually refrain from sustainable practises and products. This is because creating sustainable, eco-friendly products involves implementing various measures such as offsetting carbon emissions, reducing inputs of chemicals and other substances, and using local materials. All of these come as an extra cost of businesses, and thus climate change is not a way for people to make more money.

  • "Plants, animals and other organisms can adapt to climate change."

    This idea is partially true. Some organisms can adapt to climate change. However, organisms adapt over time - over many generations. The rate at which our climate is changing is faster than ever. Organisms are not able to survive and adapt at the same rate. For example, one of the main suspected causes for the five mass extinction events on Earth is climate change, due to the reasons outlined above. Therefore, organisms such as animals and plants cannot simply adapt to climate change.

  • "Climate change is real, but it is not predominantly, or at all, caused by humans."

    The majority of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans due to a variety of reasonss. In fact, around 97% of scientists surveyed say that humans are responsible for climate change (according to a peer Reviewed Study (J. Cook, et al, Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming, Environmental Research Letters Vol. 11 No. 4, 13 April 2016)). There are many pieces of evidence that suggest that climate change is predominantly caused by humans. Here are just a few:

    • Trends in greenhouse gas levels: Over the last few centuries, methane levels have risen by 200% and CO2 levels have risen by 45%. This trend matches up with human evolution; it was a few decades ago that the industrial revolution occurred, and from then, there has been the invention of many goods and services that emit greenhouse gases such as plastics.
    • It's chemistry: It is a fact that humans release greenhouse gases. But this doesn't necessarily cause warming, does it? Well, chemistry shows it does. Research proves that CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted by humans warm up the atmosphere, thus causing climate change. When solar radiation/ heat from Earth radiates out into the atmosphere, it comes across greenhouse gas molecules such as CO2. When it comes into contact with these molecules, a lot of the heat is absorbed, and some is reflected into all different directions - it may be sent back down to Earth or it may go out into space. This absorbed heat stays in the atmosphere of Earth.
    • Other possible warming activities aren't influential enough: There has been a great rise in average temperature over the last decade. Natural causes of warming, such as permafrost and volcanoes, simply aren't enough to add up to such a rise in average temperature, meaning the release of greenhouse gases by humans must be largely to blame.
  • "Climate change isn't an issue that we need to act upon now."

    As for any issue within society, it is often preferable to act as soon as the issue arises. This prevents the issue from spiralling out of control and causing real harm. Here is an example revelant to today; when COVID-19 started, some countries shut very quickly and some didn't at all. Countries such as New Zealand quickly shut its borders and implemented a strict lockdown as soon as any cases became apparent. Through this method, the country was able to keep its COVID rates amongst some of the lowest in the world since they had acted before the problem started causing widespread harm. This idea is applicable to climate change. We should not wait until climate change starts affecting us and those that we know. Although right now climate change is only directly affecting a few small island populations, it will soon affect much larger populations around the world if action is not taken. To stop or slow this from happening, action against climate change urgently needs to be taken.

  • "Carbon dioxide is such a small portion of the atmosphere; it doesn't make a difference."

    Carbon dioxide comprises about 0.004% of the atmosphere. This may seem miniscule, but everything is relative. Although atmospheric CO2 levels might seem small, they are very high compared to thousands of years ago. No matter the amount of it, CO2 absorbs heat, so when you have a relatively large increase in CO2 overtime, global warming will occur.

    It is also important to note that there are various other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and methane, which both are worse than CO2 per particle.

  • "Scientists are manipulating climate data to match the climate change theory."

    There are thoundands upon thousands of papers and studies on climate change. As with every scientific theory or idea, there will be scientists with intentions that are not completely pure. So, although an extremely small percentage may manipulate the data in a way that furthers their argument, this should not be a reason to disprove climate change as a whole. The majority of climate change papers are not like this and have honest, reliable data. If you are concerned with the reliability of climate data, have a look at raw data without any explanations, conclusions, etc, that you feel may influence the way you read the graph. This may help you visualise the reality of global warming and the evident increase in global average temperature over the last millenia.