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Science or Fiction

Common Climate Change Myths Debunked 

By: Eli Haynal 

Climate change, like many other issues, has recently become a highly partisan debate. As a result, arguments over the environment are frequently advanced on a political rather than factual basis. In celebration of Earth Day, here is a factual examination of some common climate change myths. 

Myth #1: The Earth’s climate has always been changing. 

This statement is factually correct in its most general sense. Large-scale historical climate changes such as ice ages are widely accepted by scientists. However, this argument is often used to group current climate change with these historical fluctuations. The speed of change is the distinction between historical and modern climate variation. [1] 

The most prominent scientific example of large, historical climate change is the ice age cycle. These fluctuations show parallel changes in global temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, and they occur roughly every 100,000 years based on minor fluctuations in Earth’s orbit. However, the current rise in global temperature is occurring at 10 times the speed as the end of the most recent ice age. [2] These scientific observations strongly support climate change as the result of human rather than natural causes. 

The current rise in global temperature is occurring at 10 times the speed as the end of the most recent ice age. Photo by Unsplash.

Myth #2: The environment will adapt to change. 

This argument carries undertones of the debate between creationists and evolutionists. In modern times, the adaptation of living things to novel conditions, or microevolution, is widely accepted despite an individual’s beliefs regarding evolution as an origin. Working from this perspective, it is straightforward to recognize climate change as a major influence on ecological change. 

The current speed of climate change is again at the heart of this issue. Many animal species, when confronted with environmental change, can migrate to a more favorable environment much more quickly and easily than they can genetically adapt to the changes. This development forces previously-unmixed species into conflict, compounding the strain on animal populations. [3] 

In addition to this specific response to warming, the current speed of climate change is simply too fast to allow for large-scale adaptation regardless of alternative strategies such as migration. Regardless of an individual’s theories on creation and evolution, species have never been witnessed to adapt to change at this speed. [4] 

Myth #3: Renewable energy is not a feasible alternative. 

One of the most common complaints raised about renewable energy is unreliability. The argument is that solar power is only available in the daytime, wind energy is only available when it is windy, etc. This is technically true, but it is a side effect of the currently limited availability of renewable energy sources. Deploying numerous renewable energy sources on a large scale ensures that some amount of them will always be producing energy. Therefore, opposing renewable energy over this issue is a self-causing problem. [5] 

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A related issue is the storage of power on the grid, which is not necessary with previous power sources. However, recent improvements in battery technology have rendered this option more feasible, and other promising developments, such as gravity-based reservoir batteries, remain unimplemented. [6] In this respect, the issue is insufficient investment rather than insufficient feasibility. 

Scientific evidence asserts that climate change is a clear and present problem, and its speed demands action on a worldwide scale. Thankfully, science also provides solutions. The problem, then, is political after all. Data and solutions are available, they simply await implementation. 

During a 2019 U.N. special session related to climate change, Ecuador General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés asserted that “we are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet.” [7] This statement is a powerful call to action in light of the evidence for climate change. The future of the world lies in the hands of the current generations. 

References  

  1. (2020, March). Climate is always changing. Why is climate change of concern now? The Royal Society.  Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3v6iOk2.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. 10 myths about climate change. WWF. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3gwHo9L.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Lagarrigue, Emmanuel. (2021, March 1). Renewable energy: Common myths debunked. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/32SvpLT.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. (2019, March 28). Only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change, speakers warns during general assembly high-level meeting. United Nations Meetings Coverage. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2QstxGX. 
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