Saturday, March 16, 2013

Top 5 Misconceptions of Climate Change Part 4


by Gabe Mouer

This week we end our countdown with what I believe to be the most pervasive myth regarding climate change. This myth roots itself in a misreading of historical data and is prevalent among laymen as well as a small handful of academics.

1) “The world is warming due to natural climate variability, it has warmed and cooled drastically long before modern humans were around.”
            I give this misconception the coveted number one spot because it has some hard science to back its claim. It is true, the world has gone through variable fluxes in the past that had nothing to do with human activity- look to the Medieval Warm Period of 950-1250 CE, or the Little Ice Age that occurred soon after.[1] The climate has swayed to the will of a variety of external changes such as the solar activity from the sun, which was the case during the Medieval Warm Period, or large volcanic eruptions that block sunlight thereby cooling the planet. But as James Wight explains, “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant force.[2]
            
How do we know that Global Warming is anthropogenic? We need only to look at the plethora of empirical studies from scientists across party lines that are published each year.[3] The dangers of resisting to accept our responsibility could very well spell the eventual end to life on this planet. Unlike the fluctuations of the past, our current predicament is not an ebb and flow of warm or cool climate, but a human invention that can only be corrected if we acknowledge that we have to change ourselves. The intricacies of how we go about fixing it is another matter altogether, but if we can align the beliefs of the public with that of experts perhaps we can work to move the discussion forward.




[1]   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Warm_Period
[2]   http://skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm
[3]   http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm

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