Public opinion on climate change has been shifting gradually from denial to acceptance. Most Americans now think global warming is real and that it’s caused by human activity, but so far that hasn’t been enough to stimulate an effective response to the problem.
The battle is still mostly being fought in the minds of men. The question is, how do you change a mind that is clouded with a fog of myth and fallacy?
You let science do the talking. With a few relevant facts and a bit of logic, you can dismantle any of the common misconceptions about global warming. Following are some examples of those misconceptions and the arguments of rebuttal.
There is no consensus. Actually, the consensus on global warming among climate scientists runs as high as 98 percent, and it’s hard to find even one international scientific society that refutes the consensus.
CO2 doesn’t cause global warming because the temperature sometimes goes down as the CO2 goes up. This indeed did happen in 1991 with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, but science has an explanation for that too. The cooling was caused by massive cloud dust created by the volcano.
These cooling events are relatively rare and they don’t refute global warming. Over the past 60 years, the global temperature has risen almost in lockstep with the rise in CO2. The connection is no accident; how CO2 captures and stores heat is well understood.
Cherry picking data is a favorite ruse of skeptics. You search a tree full of ripe fruit for a few rotten cherries, then you try to make a pie out of it. Climate change denialists are premier cherry pickers, but they make a lousy pie.
Global warming is a hoax. This statement is just plain ridiculous. It assumes that thousands of scientists conspired to fake their research on climate. For what purpose no one knows. Perhaps they all at once had a sudden change of heart and decided to give up their pursuit of knowledge for a chance to increase the sum total of human ignorance.
The climate has always been changing. True enough, but skeptics use this fact to conclude that humans have nothing to do with it. This is a Non Sequitur. Just because global warming has a natural cause doesn’t prove that humans can’t also be contributing to it.
The human footprint on climate change is clear and decisive, and it rests in the carbon atom itself. Carbon comes in different forms, or isotopes, one that is normally found in the atmosphere and one that is found uniquely in fossil fuels. The isotope of the second kind is steadily increasing in the atmosphere, and that can only come from the burning of fossil fuels.
Limiting carbon emissions will destroy the economy. This is the last and perhaps the most pernicious misconception in our list of examples. People fear that attacking the problem will cost too much.
In an analysis of some of these projects, the National Budget Office projected a cost to the U. S. economy of well below 1 percent GDP. The impact per household would amount to about one dollar per person per week. Which is less than many of us spend on entertainment.
In fact, the economy will come under much greater stress if we don’t limit carbon emission. Globally, projected costs of climate change will reach as high as 400 trillion dollars. That’s trillion with a t.
Aside from devastation to the environment, climate change will create a mounting economic loss from fires, floods and hurricanes, and the rising sea level will devastate coastal cities. Parts of Miami Beach are already being flooded. What would it cost to move a city like that?
By the time today’s children grow up they will be saddled with a huge economic burden. In the next thirty years there is also a risk of the climate reaching a “tipping point”, which could have an enormous impact on human health and well-being.
An effective solution to the problem of climate change will require action by the federal government, but too often our politicians seem incapable of accepting the evidence of science.
In that case there is only one thing to do: Vote. Vote the climate deniers out of office. Vote for truth and reason, and for creating a better world for our children.