A Changing Climate: Myths vs. Facts

Jan. 23, 2024

You have probably heard increasing news reports about climate change and its impacts on human life and our ecosystems. This article will help you separate truth from misinformation when it comes to Earth’s changing climate.  

MYTH: The Earth’s climate is always changing.
FACT: The Earth’s climate does change over time, usually over hundreds of thousands of years. However, since fossil fuels were introduced during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, emissions have warmed the atmosphere at increasing rates. When researchers and journalists mention ‘climate change’, they are referring to climate changes that humans are responsible for through fossil fuel use. 

MYTH: Plants need carbon dioxide (CO2) to survive, so increased CO2 levels are okay. 
FACT: Plants do need CO2 to survive, but there is a limit to how much CO2 they can use. As we lose trees and plant life to deforestation, less and less CO2 can be used by plants to exchange for oxygen. The current levels of CO2 in our atmosphere far exceed what our existing plant life can absorb. 

MYTH: Climate change is not real because it still gets cold in some places. 
FACT: Global warming, or the warming of Earth’s atmosphere due to climate change, does not simply result in warmer temperatures. The imbalance of the natural weather system has resulted in more frequent and more severe extreme weather events, such as droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures across the globe. 

MYTH: Scientists do not agree on the cause of climate change.  
FACT: Several independent studies have found that, over the past 2 decades, over 97% of scientists agree that humans are the main cause of recent climate changes. Just in March of 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), composed of hundreds of scientists, confirmed that climate change is due to human activity

MYTH: Small, fractional changes in global temperatures are not a big deal. 
FACT: Even the smallest decimal changes in global temperatures can have a detrimental impact on our climate. Greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels have already raised the global temperature by 1.1° C from 1850–1900. A 1.5° C increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels will bring more severe heat waves, and shorter cold seasons, with worsening extreme weather events to follow.

If you want to learn more about climate change and how it impacts all of us, visit the links below.

  1. United Nations: What is Climate Change?
  2. Covering Climate Now: 10 Climate Change Myths Debunked 
  3. BBC: A Simple Guide to Climate Change