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Despite the media attention climate change has had in the past years, many people are still unsure of what global warming is. In this age of 24/7 lighting fast information, we’re bombarded with all kinds of “facts” about the environment, so much so that we have a difficult time telling the truth from the real thing. Here are some of the top global warming myths that people still believe in.

Myth #1: There is no real consensus in the scientific community that global warming exists.

Not true. Many respected scientists and notable research centers from all over the world agree on one thing: global warming is here and it is a product of human activity. Logical Science has compiled a very large list (called The Consensus on Global Warming) of statements, research papers and articles that state that climate change is upon us. In 2007, Exxon Mobil tried to give away $10,000 to scientists to disprove global warming, but so far, no one has received any such reward.

Myth #2: Humans aren’t the cause of global warming! It’s the sun/dust/atmosphere/aliens/gremlins!

As much as we’d all like to do a Bart Simpson and say, “I didn’t do it!” you only have to look into a mirror to find out the cause of climate change. There are many factors, which continue to contribute to global warming, but they all can be traced back to human activity. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science (along with other institutions) has studied the rising temperature of the earth since the 1970s. They collected data from different continents from 80 studies, spanning 20 or more years and have concluded that, “Humans are influencing climate through increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The warming is causing impacts on physical and biological systems that are now attributable at the global scale and in North America, Europe, and Asia.”

Myth #3: You know, a little global warming isn’t bad for you…

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Right…and a little cholera never hurt either. Perhaps because some critics can’t disprove global warming, they’re all trying to make us drink the Kool-aid by telling us global warming is natural and ok. Plants need carbon dioxide to survive, which must mean that carbon emissions are good for the environment! Well, it’s much more complicated than that. Plants naturally have their own mechanisms for dealing with lack of CO2, and for the most part, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn’t matter to that plant (in fact, the inverse is more true – the planet needs more plants to absorb the excess CO2.)

If you live in a cold region and think you could benefit from some more warm weather, think again. Aside from the fact that raising the earth’s temperature by even 5 degrees could spell disaster, not everyone can cope with the changes. A milder winter may be a good thing for people up in Canada, but extreme droughts can be disastrous for the farmer in India trying to make a living. The same can be said for the animal kingdom – some animals will thrive with the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, yet other will suffer.

Myth #4: But the ice in some parts aren’t shrinking, it’s actually growing!

While there may be some places where the ice isn’t shrinking, the over-all decrease in glaciers has been dramatic. In fact in the more than 30-year period after 1960, the earth lost almost 1,000 cubic miles of ice. Satellite photos from NASA show that on average, Greenland is continually losing ice mass and the “growth” some people observe is due to the heavier than normal snowfall, which is short-lived. There are more signs that it’s the country is continuing to lose glacial mass at an accelerated rate, with more of the southern ice caps drifting into the ocean. But not only Greenlanders have to worry – if all their ice melted then they could potentially add about 20 feet to the ocean level worldwide, an amount which can be devastating to many low-lying areas.

So, if you think you’ve come across some suspect information about climate change, take it with a grain of salt. Do your research – it may be nothing more than hot air.

By Maria Belgado

Additional resources:
Environmental Defense Fund
Global Issues
The Australian Conservation Foundation
Sierra Club Canada’s page on climate change