When it comes to climate change, there are many misconceptions, distortions, outright lies and memes circulating online. In fact, entire websites argue the mainstream scientific conclusion that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are causing harmful global warming. In an effort to clear up some of the climate confusion, here are the top six climate myths, debunked.
There’s a difference between short-term weather variability and long-term climate change. Weather is the day-to-day variations in precipitation, temperature and clouds. Climate, on the other hand, is the average weather pattern in a place over many years. When examining climate change, scientists typically look at 30-year timeframes or longer, whereas weather involves a 5-10-day forecasts.
While there is a clear long-term global warming trend, some years do not show a temperature increase relative to the previous year, and some years show greater changes than others. These year-to-year fluctuations in temperature are due to natural processes, such as the effects of El Niños, La Niñas, and volcanic eruptions.
In fact, some scientists think that by melting Arctic sea ice, global warming may be causing bigger swings in the jet stream that can encourage frigid air to move south into the winter, into parts of the U.S. and Europe.
One of the biggest control knobs of the climate system (both in history and now) is carbon dioxide, or CO2.
Changes in the global surface temperature (top) and the solar flux (bottom) since 1900 (temperatures are relative to 1961-1990; solar flux is relative to the total average irradiance from the sun of about 1360 watts per square meter).
The majority of the warming at the global scale over the past 50 years can only be explained by the effects of human influences, especially the emissions from burning fossil fuels and from deforestation, while natural factors have played a more minor role. Read more…