More Climate Myths vs. Facts

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so we wanted to set the record straight on a few of the myths we hear most.

Climate change is a HOAX.

Climate change is happening.

Millions of people across the globe have already been profoundly impacted by the effects of climate change, leading to shifts in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, a warmer ocean, and more frequent, intense extreme weather events. (IPCC) 

The repercussions of climate change extend to various aspects of our lives, influencing health, food production, housing, safety, and employment. Specific individuals, particularly those in small island developing countries, face increased vulnerability to climate impacts. Threats, such as rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion, have progressed to the extent of necessitating the relocation of entire communities. Furthermore, future projections indicate a rising number of people displaced by climate change. 

Climate changes are widespread, happening swiftly and intensifying, with some, like sea-level rise and melting ice sheets, being irreversible over extended periods ranging from hundreds to thousands of years.

Climate change is a natural occurrence.

Climate change happens because of human activity.

While natural factors like changes in the sun’s activity or volcanic eruptions influenced ancient shifts in Earth’s temperatures, the last 200 years have seen human activities, notably the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, emerge as the primary drivers of climate change. (IPCC)

The combustion of fossil fuels creates a layer of pollution that traps the sun’s heat on Earth, leading to global warming and subsequent impacts such as droughts, water scarcity, intense storms, rising sea levels, flooding, severe fires, melting polar ice, and declining biodiversity.

As the concentration of pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2), a significant contributor to this heat-trapping effect increases in the atmosphere, Earth experiences a corresponding rise in temperatures. The IPCC emphasizes a strong correlation between cumulative CO2 emissions and the escalation of global surface temperature.

Since the Industrial Revolution, marked by the widespread adoption of machinery fueled by coal, oil, and gas, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has surged at an unprecedented rate. The CO2 levels are approximately 50% higher than those in 1750, surpassing natural variations over the past 800,000 years. (IPCC)

Science shows that humans are not responsible for climate change.

Scientists agree that humans are responsible for climate change.

Over the past 19 years, numerous independent studies consistently report a high level of scientific consensus, ranging from 90% to 100%, with the majority finding 97% agreement that humans are responsible for climate change.

In 2021, a study revealed an even greater than 99% consensus on human-induced climate change in peer-reviewed scientific literature—a level of certainty comparable to the widely accepted theory of evolution.

The Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in March 2023, affirms that human activity is the predominant cause of climate change. These comprehensive assessments, compiled by hundreds of leading scientists globally and endorsed by every country’s government, reinforce the overwhelming scientific consensus on the human impact on climate change.

There's no other energy source apart from fossil fuels.

Alternatives to petroleum-based products already exist.

Many everyday products continue to be manufactured using oil or other fossil fuels, leading to substantial carbon emissions from the extraction, transportation, and production processes. Many everyday items, including plastics, clothing, tires, digital devices, fertilizer, and laundry detergents, rely on petrochemicals for their production. (IEA)

Plastic manufacturing stands out as one of the most energy-intensive processes globally, contributing to 3.4% of the total global carbon emissions in 2019, amounting to 1.8 billion metric tonnes. (UNEP)

However, viable alternatives exist. Plastic can be produced partially or entirely from plant materials like cellulose, potato or corn starch, sugar cane, maize, and soy, offering a sustainable option compared to petroleum or natural gas-based production. Bio-based plastics can mimic the structural properties of their fossil fuel counterparts. (UNEP)

Various carbon- and hydrogen-containing materials, such as bioenergy products, can replace oil, natural gas, and coal as chemical feedstocks. Biomass, derived from organic material from plants and animals, presents a potential substitute for the fossil fuels used in the production of plastics or fertilizer, tapping into the origins of hydrocarbons found in coal, oil, and gas. (IEA)

While the opportunity to produce materials without relying on fossil fuels is substantial, the current usage of bioplastics accounts for only about 1% of global plastic production. (IEA) However, careful consideration should be taken when adopting plant-based materials to account for environmental, social, and economic factors across ecosystems and communities.

Climate change does not affect human health.

Climate change is a major threat to people's health.

The adverse effects of climate change, encompassing air pollution, diseases, extreme weather events, forced displacement, food insecurity, and mental health challenges, are already impacting human well-being and are anticipated to worsen with each incremental rise in temperature. (WHO)

 

The primary contributor to climate change, the combustion of coal, oil, and gas, is also a key source of air pollution, leading to respiratory diseases, strokes, and heart attacks. Outdoor air pollution currently results in over 8.7 million annual deaths. (REN21)

 

A viable solution to mitigate these health risks involves transitioning from fossil fuel-based power plants to renewable energy sources including wind or solar farms. Unlike traditional power generation, wind turbines and solar panels do not emit pollutants into the air or contribute to global warming, significantly improving human health. (REN21)

Natural gas is a green energy resource.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, not a clean source of energy.

Similarly to oil and coal, natural gas is a fossil fuel made from the decomposing remains of animals, plants, and microorganisms that existed millions of years ago. When combusted, it releases carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

In 2020, the combustion of natural gas constituted 22% of the worldwide carbon emissions resulting from fuel combustion, closely following oil at 32% and coal at 45%, according to the International Energy Agency. (IEA)

Furthermore, natural gas often releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, during extraction. In 2021, natural gas production contributed to 40 million tons of methane emissions, equivalent to the emissions from the oil industry. Methane, measured over a 20-year period, is approximately 84 times more potent than CO2. (IEA, UNEP)

Countries cannot rely entirely on green energy sources.

Entire countries already rely 100% on renewable electricity.

Costa Rica, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Paraguay, and Uruguay have embraced a sustainable approach by harnessing the power of hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar energy to fuel their grids. (REN21)

In addition to these nations, certain provinces and sub-national states have successfully achieved 100% renewable-based electricity. Notable examples include South Australia, Hawaii (U.S.), Quebec (Canada), and Qinghai (China), along with islands like Ta’u (American Samoa), Eigg (Scotland), El Hierro (Spain), Graciosa (Portugal), and King Island (Australia) (REN21).

Impressively, Denmark, Scotland, South Australia, and Hawaii have surpassed their total electricity demand, exceeding 100%, through the utilization of wind and solar power. Some even export surplus energy to contribute to the broader sustainable energy landscape. (REN21)

Hydropower has played a significant role in generating surplus electricity in certain regions. Paraguay and Quebec, for instance, have successfully exported their surplus hydropower, showcasing the diverse ways in which renewable resources are being harnessed. (REN21)

It’s worth noting that while the examples mentioned focus on electricity, there are currently no instances of fully renewable-based energy systems encompassing the electricity, heating, cooling, and transport sectors. However, the groundwork for such comprehensive systems is being laid, including the development of necessary technologies, infrastructure, and markets. (REN21)

Source: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/mythbusters?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0O3klu-kgQMVnzIGAB2B8wtfEAAYASAAEgKlBPD_BwE

We bring you the most up-to-date news and research.