But the energy industry and political lobbyists, among others, have been raising doubts about climate change for 30 years where there is none.
The latest research estimates that the world’s five largest oil and gas companies spend about $200 million a year maintaining Lobbies that control, delay or impede the development of mandatory climate policies.
The organized denial of climate change has contributed to the stagnation in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the global climate emergency in which we find ourselves.
«Climate change is accelerating and in a very dangerous direction»: the scientific report alerting record numbers in global warming
As a result, the denialists using certain myths (at best, fake news; at worst, blaming lies) to disallow the science of climate change can make ordinary people not know what to expect.
Here are five of these myths and the scientific evidence that discredits them.
1. Climate change is just part of the natural cycle
Earth’s climate has never stopped changing, but the study of paleoclimatology or, what is the same, the «old climates», shows that the changes that have occurred over the last 150 years (since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution) cannot be natural for its exceptionality.
The results of the models indicate that the planned warm-up for the future could be unprecedented in the last five million years.
The «naturalness of change» argument put forward by the deniers is supported by the reclaiming of the cold temperatures of the Little Ice Age (1300 A.D.), and that the ones we have today are the same as those of the l Medieval Warm Period (900 A.D.-1300 A.D.).
The gap in that assessment is that both steps did not involved global but regional changes, which affected northwestern Europe in eastern America, Greenland and Iceland.
A study with 700 climate records has shown that the only time the climate has changed at the same time and in the same way around the world over the last 2,000 years has been in the last 150 years, in which more than 98% of the planet’s surface has experienced or n temperature increase.
Six graphs explaining climate change
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2. Changes are due to sunspots or cosmic rays
Sunspots are regions of the surface of the star that harbor intense magnetic activity and can be accompanied by solar eruptions.
While these stains have the ability to modify Earth’s climate, since 1978 scientists have used sensors in satellites to obtain a record of the solar energy reaching the planet and have not observed the existence of an upward trend, so that cannot be the cause of recent global warming.
There are relatively darker regions of the Sun seen in this NASA photo, but these spots are not responsible for climate changeCosmic rays are high-energy radiation originating outside the solar system, arising, perhaps, in distant galaxies.
It has once been pointed out that these rays could be one of the reasons why clouds are «manufactured», so if the amount of rays reaching the Earth were reduced it would reduce the number of clouds, which would cause less sunlight to be reflected in space and, as a consequence, that the planet would warm up.
However, this theory has two pitfalls.
First, science shows that cosmic rays are not too effective in creating clouds, and secondly, over the past 50 years the amount of cosmic radiation reaching Earth has increased to set new records during the years.
If the hypothesis were correct, cosmic rays should cool the planet, but the truth is that the opposite is happening.
3. CO2 is only a small part of the atmosphere, so it can’t overheat
It’s an attempt to play a common-sense card, but it’s going to drop the shot.
In 1856, American scientist Eunice Newton Foote conducted an experiment with an air pump, two glass cylinders and four thermometers with which she demonstrated that a cylinder exposed to sunlight containing carbon dioxide traps more heat and for more time than a cylinder that holds normal air.
Since then, science has repeated this experiment both in laboratories and in the atmosphere, reaching the same conclusion over and over again: carbon dioxide emits more greenhouse gases.
As for the argument attributed to the «common sense» scale that a tiny part of something cannot have a significant effect, just remember that it only takes 0.1 grams of cyanide to kill an adult, that is, 0.0001% of their body weight.
This data can be compared to the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (0.04%), to which is added the fact that it is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Nitrogen, meanwhile, makes up 78% of the atmosphere and is barely reactive.
4. Scientists manipulate the data to show the upward trend in temperature
Not only is it not true, but it is a simplistic maneuver used to attack the credibility of scientists who study the climate.
For a conspiracy of these dimensions to be possible, it would be necessary for thousands of scientists from more than 100 countries to agree to lie about the data obtained.
Scientists continually correct and validate the information gathered. For example, among our tasks is the correction of historical temperature records, since the measurement systems have varied over time.
Between 1856 and 1941, most measurements of the sea surface were carried out hoisting the water with a bucket from the deck of the ship. This method offered no guarantees, since at first wooden cubes were used and then used as a canvas.
Measurement systems have changed over time, but also the environmentAlso, the change of sailing boats to steamships equally altered the water temperature, since the difference in height between the ships made the evaporation greater or less in each case when the water reached the deck.
Since 1941, most measurements have been made through the ship’s water intake system, so there is no need to worry about the cooling caused by evaporation.
On the other hand, we must take into account that many cities have grown in size, so the weather stations that were once in rural areas are now integrated within urban areas that typically have higher temperatures than the field through which they are surrounded.
If scientists hadn’t modified the original measurements, the numbers of Earth’s warming over the past 150 years would have been even higher than they actually are. Currently, the temperature increase is 1oC.
5. Climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide
This statement is incorrect and demonstrates a poor understanding of how models work, while belittling the extent of climate change.
There is a wide range of climate models, from those dealing with specific mechanisms, such as cloud cycles, to general circulation models (GUs), which are used to predict our planet’s future climate.
There are more than 20 centers around the world where some of the smartest people on the planet have shaped and run general circulation models that contain millions of lines of code that represent the forefront of what is known about the climate system.
These models are continuously tested with historical and paleoclimatic data, as well as independent weather events, such as large volcanic eruptions, to confirm that they reconstruct the climate correctly (as, indeed, it is) .
Climate change is a complex issueA model in itself should not be considered correct, as it represents a highly complex global climate system.
However, by having so many different models built and calibrated independently we can rely on their reliability when they match their results.
When studying the results of all models, we observed that doubling carbon dioxide emissions could increase the temperature between 2oC and 4.5oC, with an average of 3.1oC.
Alarming figures showing that July was the hottest month in history
All models show significant warming when extra carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere.
Although the complexity of the models has increased, the projected warming scale has remained in similar scales for the past 30 years, demonstrating its effectiveness.
Combining scientific knowledge about climate warming and cooling from natural factors (solar, volcanic energy, aerosols and ozone) and human-friendly factors (greenhouse gases and changes in land use), we can ensure that 100% of the warming observed over the last 150 years is due to humans.
There is no single scientific argument to rely on to systematically deny climate change.
The Intergub GroupExperts on Climate Change (IPCC), created by the United Nations to bring climate science closer to citizens, offers six irrefutable evidence of climate change.
As extreme weather disturbances become more common, people are realizing that they don’t need scientists to tell them that the climate is changing, as they are experiencing it in the first person.
*Mark Maslin Is Professor of Earth Sciences in University College London (UCL). This note originally appeared in The Conversation and is published here under a Creative Commons license.