Climate scientists debunk 13 myths about global warming

  • Climate scientists Deepti Singh and Ben Cook debunk 13 myths about global warming.

  • They discuss about the connection between local weather and climate and renewable power.

  • Singh and Cook dive deep into the position of carbon dioxide and extra on this episode of “Debunked.”

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Benjamin Cook: “Global warming is caused by cow farts.”

Deepti Singh: It’s not by their farts, but it surely’s by belching.

Cook: “A few degrees’ difference is not a big deal.” And the way in which I at all times wish to assume about it too is like your physique’s temperature. If your temperature is three or 4 levels hotter, you then’re significantly sick.

“It’s too late to do anything about it.” Unless you are Elon Musk and gonna head off in direction of Mars, we’re all caught right here, so we must always strive to determine how we are able to make it the very best planet we are able to.

Singh: I’m Deepti Singh. I’m an assistant professor within the School of the Environment at Washington State University. I’ve been learning local weather change for about 11 years, and I examine excessive climate occasions and the way human actions are influencing them.

Cook: My title is Benjamin Cook, and I’m a local weather scientist on the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. I’ve been working there for about 14 years now. And I examine how droughts are altering with global warming and local weather change.

Singh: And immediately we’ll be debunking myths about global warming.

Cook: Myths from popular culture. Oh, boy, I’m glad you bought this one, Deepti. “The sun is causing global warming.”

Singh: Changes within the quantity of power we get from the solar do have an effect on our local weather. But over the past 150 years, we all know that as a result of the quantity of power we’re getting from the solar has not modified considerably over this era. Satellites have been recording the quantity of photo voltaic radiation that our planet receives. I believe Ben has a graph that exhibits that.

Cook: And what we’re taking a look at right here on the yellow is the quantity of power that is coming from the solar, and purple is global temperatures. It’s fairly clear that the quantity of power we’re getting from the solar has been kind of flat for the final a number of a long time, at the same time as temperatures proceed to go up and up.

Singh: “Scientists don’t agree on what causes climate change.”

Cook: 100% of the local weather scientists on this Skype name agree.

Singh: If you evaluate the printed literature in respected journals by respected scientists, all these papers agree that local weather change is brought on by human actions.

Cook: There’s actually no different rationalization that matches the info. We’ve appeared on the solar. We’ve checked out simply pure variations in circulation within the ocean, within the ambiance. We’ve checked out volcanoes. We’ve checked out adjustments in ecosystems. And on the finish of the day, the one factor that may adequately clarify the diploma of warming that we have seen over the past 150 years is human greenhouse fuel emissions, primarily by the burning of fossil fuels. There’s an actual clear incentive for folks to search out another rationalization. Nobody can provide you with even a believable various speculation.

“Global warming is caused by cow farts.”

Singh: It’s not by their farts, but it surely’s by belching. Agriculture is a fairly substantial contributor to greenhouse fuel emissions, near 25%. It’s not the entire 25%, but it surely’s a great chunk.

Cook: It’s vital to notice, too, that even the cow burps which are producing this methane just isn’t pure. It’s all a part of a type of human agricultural system. So blaming all of it on cows would not take folks off the hook.

Singh: “Plants and animals will adapt.”

Cook: So, we all know that previously, crops and animals have tailored to local weather change, however there’s a couple of elementary various things now which are very prone to make it fairly troublesome. In addition, it isn’t simply local weather change that is threatening crops and animals, it is habitat fragmentation, it is air pollution, it is a wide range of different environmental stressors. And so when you type of put local weather change on high of air pollution, on high of habitat loss, then it turns into a lot, way more troublesome.

Singh: And simply so as to add to that, I believe the extinction price of species is far larger than the pure extinction price. And it is partly pushed by the processes that Ben simply talked about.

Cook: Myths from social media.

Singh: “Global warming is natural.”

Cook: So, we all know prior to now that local weather can change actually dramatically from pure causes. The local weather throughout the time of the dinosaurs could be very totally different from the local weather throughout the time of the final ice age. But the adjustments that we’re seeing proper now for probably the most half will not be pure. The warming that we’re seeing could be very seemingly the quickest warming we have seen anytime within the final a number of thousand years. It coincides straight with the economic revolution and the burning of fossil fuels and widespread deforestation. You can take a look at virtually any pure trigger, and none of them are ample to clarify the warming that we have seen in current a long time.

Singh: “Carbon dioxide is the problem.”

So, CO2 is not the issue. It’s the rise within the focus of CO2 within the ambiance that’s ensuing within the fast warming we’re seeing over the past century, which is the issue.

Cook: So, carbon dioxide is one in every of these gases that we name greenhouse gases, as a result of they’re liable for the greenhouse impact, which mainly helps lure power on Earth and make issues a lot, a lot hotter than it in any other case would have been. It’s not an enormous stretch then to watch that if we begin growing CO2 concentrations, we’re gonna lure extra power and we’re gonna heat up.

Singh: Before the economic revolution, CO2 ranges had been near, like, 280 components per million. And now we’re at near 418 components per million. So that is a pretty big change within the focus.

Cook: And the very fact is that just about anytime the world was hotter, CO2 ranges within the ambiance had been larger. And anytime the world was cooler, CO2 concentrations had been decrease.

“A few degrees’ difference is not a big deal.” And the way in which I at all times wish to assume about it too is like your physique’s temperature. We’re all purported to be about 98.6 levels Fahrenheit. Even one diploma or two levels of warming is taken into account a low-grade fever. And in case your temperature is three or 4 levels hotter, you then’re significantly sick.

Singh: So, simply to offer you a way, the Earth has warmed by about one diploma over the past century. That one diploma is a median temperature round our planet. That means some components of our planet are warming quicker than others. I come from India. We have lots of people that dwell under poverty within the nation. And most of these folks, for instance, haven’t got an air conditioner to cope with excessive warmth occasions. So it depends upon who we’re speaking about once we say it isn’t an enormous deal, as a result of there are some folks across the planet which have the capability to adapt or deal with these type of excessive occasions and with the warming that we have skilled, after which there are billions of those who should not have the capability to deal with even small adjustments.

Myths that we, local weather scientists, hear probably the most.

“Global warming will destroy the planet by 2030.”

Cook: Just like there’s type of local weather deniers who do not know what they’re speaking about, there’s local weather doomists who additionally do not know what they’re speaking about. This entire concept of the planet being destroyed by 2030 comes out of dialogue about, how a lot time do we have now to maintain global warming below two levels? And so it’s extremely seemingly that we have to type of get emissions below management by 2030 to maintain it below two levels. It does not imply that the world goes to blow up or we’re all going to be consigned to a fiery “Mad Max” type of hellscape. It simply implies that it’s going to be hotter than we possibly wished it to be.

Singh: When they are saying it is gonna destroy the planet, nicely, the planet’s not going to explode. But it does imply that the lifestyle and the livelihoods and the issues folks rely upon are going to be affected. There are already individuals who have been displaced due to sea-level rise, folks which are experiencing life-threatening warmth circumstances.

Cook: The impacts of local weather change will not be going to be equally felt. These type of blanket statements are very, very dismissive. And I believe they’ll take consideration away from the people who find themselves prone to be most susceptible to local weather change.

Singh: It’s not likely useful to place a date on it. I believe we simply must know that delaying motion on local weather change goes to simply price extra to society.

Cook: “Global warming is China’s fault.”

Singh: So, to deal with that delusion, I believe there’s one vital reality we have to perceive. When CO2 is emitted, it could actually keep within the ambiance for tons of, if not hundreds of years. The CO2 concentrations we’re seeing immediately are a consequence of emissions which have occurred over a for much longer interval, over the past century. And most of these emissions are related to the economic revolution and improvement of nations just like the US and industrialized nations in Europe. If we take a look at emissions this 12 months particularly, positive, the emissions from China are near what the emissions from the US are. But these emissions are getting used to provide merchandise and items which are being utilized in different components of the world. So I do not assume it is honest to say that China’s accountable once we’re all benefiting from the merchandise which are produced there.

Cook: I believe even immediately, it is price considering not simply about how a lot is a rustic emitting, however how a lot are they emitting per individual? And I’ve one other visible assist right here. You can fairly clearly see the highest-intensity emitters are locations like Australia, the US, Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia. China is not even within the high 10.

Singh: It’s additionally an advanced drawback as a result of the well-being of individuals is tied to their consumption of power. So so long as we’re doing that in a sustainable, cleaner manner, I believe all of us have to profit from it.

“Renewable energy is too expensive to be realistic.”

Cook: Renewable power is getting cheaper on a regular basis, even quicker than we anticipated. And there’s plenty of locations the place it really can outcompete some fossil gasoline sources. For instance, I consider wind and photo voltaic is less expensive than coal in just about your entire United States.

Singh: The price of manufacturing photo voltaic panels immediately is a fraction of what it was only a decade in the past. I hold going again to India as a result of that is one other area I’m very acquainted with. There are plenty of villages there which were supplied power as a result of they’re utilizing photo voltaic and wind, which might not have been attainable if we had been nonetheless relying upon CO2. Now, there’s nonetheless challenges.

Cook: We’re not going to type of be capable of change all the things in a single day, but it surely’s like some other know-how. It’s getting cheaper over time. It’s getting extra environment friendly. And the extra we type of put money into it, then the quicker we’ll get to the purpose that we’ll be capable of use it for many of our wants.

“Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming.”

Singh: So, the appropriate query to ask just isn’t whether or not an excessive occasion would have been attainable with out warming, but it surely’s to ask how the occasion itself was affected by warming. For instance, a tropical storm or a tropical cyclone may end in heavier precipitation as a result of a hotter ambiance holds extra moisture. And so there’s extra moisture, extra gasoline within the storm, which ends up in heavier precipitation and sure extra flooding.

Cook: I believe a great analogy is knowledgeable athlete on steroids. Athletes must have some type of innate health and skill, however in the event you go on steroids, you are a bit extra prone to hit a house run. So CO2 is type of just like the steroids of the local weather system, and it is simply intensifying all the things that is already there.

Singh: “The temperature record is unreliable.” What do it’s important to say about that, Ben?

Cook: The file we have now of warming for the final 150 years is constructed from mainly hundreds of thermometer data from all over the world. Climate scientists usually get accused of modifying the temperature file to make it seem like it is warming greater than it really is. At least half a dozen teams all over the world who’re all independently placing collectively these data and estimating the global temperature adjustments that we have seen over the past two centuries, they usually’re all mainly getting the identical reply. All this knowledge is publicly out there! Anybody can go and get this knowledge and provide you with their very own calculation. And the very fact is that no one has proven one that’s credibly totally different.

“It’s too late to do anything about it.”

Singh: It’s simple for us to say, “Well, it’s too late to do anything about it. Let’s throw our hands up and not do anything about it.” But there’s a lot we are able to do about it, each individually in addition to on the worldwide degree. It would not must be a significant change, however decreasing our consumption of sure meat merchandise which are extraordinarily energy-intensive is a method wherein we are able to have an effect on greenhouse emissions.

Cook: The choices we make immediately, we’re going to must cope with, our youngsters are going to must dwell with. I’ll by no means say that individuals shouldn’t recycle or scale back their automotive use or eat much less meat. But on the finish of the day, the massive lever is simply going to be authorities. And ‘trigger the federal government can set insurance policies that may incentivize actions.

Singh: It’s additionally a bizarre time to say that it is too late to do something about it, as a result of we’re at a cut-off date when we have now a lot info. There are folks engaged on applied sciences to deal with local weather change and to make the environment cleaner and higher. So this isn’t a time for us to place our fingers up. It’s our time to take motion.

Cook: Climate change itself just isn’t pass-fail. Keeping warming to 3 levels is best than 4 levels. Keeping warming to 2 and a half levels is best than three levels. Keeping warming to 2 levels is best than all of these issues. We’re all caught right here, so we must always strive to determine how we are able to make it the very best planet we are able to. Climate change is a global drawback, and it may require a global answer and folks to truly type of work collectively.

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