The world is warming up. Data published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US NOAA) shows that for April 2024 the average global temperature was 1.32C above the average for the 20th Century (13.7C) making it the warmest April in the global climate record. April 2024 was also the 11th uninterrupted month of record-high global temperatures. This data also showed that Europe had its 2nd warmest April on record. Unseasonable heat is being experienced on nearly every continent.

Climate and Sustainability experts have identified that this is a clear sign that the global climate is rapidly changing. However, there are some people who still have their doubts and say that climate change is a hoax. That it is not real! These people tend to rely on a series of well-trodden myths to back up their view. Most of the world recognises that climate change is real. However, social media misrepresentation is slowing up political, scientific, and individual action to humanities greatest challenge. Here is a closer look at the most common climate-related myths and why they are simply not factual. 

MYTH - Climate change has always happened. Don鈥檛 worry about it.  

The earth鈥檚 temperature has varied throughout time with periods of cooling and warming. However, following the last ice age (10,000 years ago), the climate has been moderately steady. This has been a central factor to the advancement of human development. That stability is becoming uncertain. The Earth is about 1.2C hotter than before the industrial revolution and is heating up at its fastest rate in at least 2000 years. This has culminated in 2023 smashing global climate temperature records and the last 10 years being the warmest recorded.   

Temperatures are not the only climate related indicators that are showing change. Others which are also spiking are levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, ocean temperatures, sea levels, and glacial/sea ice retreat. 

MYTH - Climate change is natural. People have no affects.  

Yes, climate change is a natural process, but it is being accelerated by human activity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports regularly on climate issues and draws on the research of hundreds of leading climate scientists. They have reported that human activity since the industrial revolution (over the past 200 years) is liable for almost all the global warming during that period.

Fossil fuels 鈥 coal, oil and gas 鈥 cause the most substantial effect to climate change. (They account to over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions). Their burning is engulfing the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, which act like a covering around the planet, trapping heat. Ice core and tree ring measurements have enabled scientists to trace greenhouse gas concentrations. Such analysis has shown that carbon dioxide levels are at their highest within the last 2 million years and two other greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide are at an 800,000 year high.

MYTH - A couple of degrees of warming is a not a big problem. 

Yes, it is. There are some delicate ecosystems in the world which are finely balanced. Any temperature rise can throw such systems into disorder which in turn will have implication for humans, their way of life and other living things.

In 2015, an agreement in Paris was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21). The 鈥淧aris Agreement鈥, an international treaty,  legally bound countries to limit average global temperature rise to 鈥渨ell below鈥 2掳C.  Its preferable target was to 1.5掳C since pre-industrial times. 

The IPCC identified if 2掳C of warming happened, 2 billion more people would be subjected to regular extreme heat than they would at 1.5掳C

As result ecosystems would lose three times as many insects and twice as many ants and vertebrate. Crop yields would reduce by more than half, lowering food security capabilities worldwide. 

70-90% of corals would die at a 1.5掳C temperature raise. At 2掳C, 99% would die. These are the supporting pillars of a wide range of ocean ecosystems and their demise would affect other marine species and human coastal communities.

Every increase by a fraction of a degree of warming matters.

MYTH - Cold snaps are increasing. Therefore, Climate Changes is not really happening. 

This is a rather confusing declaration as climate and weather are two separate entities. Climate is a regions long term weather condition whereas weather is the atmospheric conditions experienced day to day. A useful analogy is 鈥渢he weather is what you are wearing; the climate is what鈥檚 in your wardrobe鈥. In relation to this myth, there can still be a cold snap whilst the general overall experience for the planet is warming.  

Some experts also believe climate change could lead to longer and more intense cold in some places due to changes in wind patterns and other atmospheric factors (temperature, pressure, cloud formation, wind, humidity, and rain)

MYTH - Not even the scientists can agree on what causes climate change 

showed that 99% of the peer-reviewed literature on the subject identified that climate change was human-made. The myth is deemed a line to take by climate change deniers to show doubt in the science informing the world of climate change. However, the environmental and climate science community agree. Climate change is human induced.

Carboard sign at a protest saying 'Climate justice now!

MYTH - It is too late to deter a climate catastrophe, so we might as well keep burning fossil fuels. 

The position we [humans] are at is horrible. However, humanity still has a narrow window of opportunity to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  The United Nations Environmental Programme鈥檚 latest Emissions Gap Report found that cutting greenhouse gas emission by 42% by 2030 could have a limiting factor on the rise of global temperatures and keeping it within the Paris Agreement Limit of 1.5掳C compared with pre-industrial levels. To reach this, global emissions must reduce by 22 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in less than 7 years. A big ask you might say. By increasing our focus on low carbon development and the money behind it and with converging on key transport, agriculture, and forestry, we as a global community can get there. It will be an immense task , but there are solutions which are within our grasp to reduce emissions now. There is also opportunity to raise these issues and discuss the ambitions and results of national climate action plans and help all countries. 

MYTH - The climate models we use as evidence are untrustworthy. 

Claimed by Climate Change Deniers and Climate Sceptics, as being incorrect and erroneous. However, the IPCC states that climate models have come up with consistent data which provides a stout and unmistakable representation of global warming. A study in 2020 by the University of California showed that most of the global warming have been quite accurate. A total of 17 climate change models have been generated from 1970- 2007, and 14 of them have closely met findings. Continuous studies into this show no difference.

MYTH - Humanity is innovative; we can just adapt to climate change. 

Most of the high- and middle-income countries and communities can adapt to the consequences of rising temperatures, lower rainfall, and the other impacts of climate change. But some middle- and low-income countries and communities are not able to.  

A UNEP report showed that the world鈥檚 low-income countries collectively need between 拢170 billion and 拢789 billion per year to adapt to climate change. However, they only have access to a part of that total. It also identified that wealthy nations would struggle to afford the cost of modifications to deal with climate change. Radical measures, such as displacing vulnerable communities, relocating vital infrastructure or changing staple foods will also be a momentously expensive task. Also, we need to understand that this is happening now in many places which are facing ironclad limitations on how they can adjust. Small island states in the Pacific, alongside Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal, can only do so much to hold back the rising seas. And this is just the start. Without significant action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, other communities will reach these hard limits faster and begin to suffer irreparable damage from climate change.

MYTH - Renewable energy is more expensive

The grandstanding and conviction that renewable energy is expensive, simply isn鈥檛 true!  Wind and solar power are the most inexpensive ways of producing electricity. It is cheaper than nuclear, gas and other fossil fuels. It is estimated that renewable energy can be up to nine times cheaper than gas! The cost of renewables has fallen quicker than anyone could have forecasted. Unfortunately it is being reported by at the present-time, that the UK Government are still backing dirty fossil fuels more than renewable energy.

At the moment, widespread across the UK, there are huge rises in the price of energy and food. This is mainly caused by the price of fossil fuels. Furthermore, crops around the world are also unsuccessful due to droughts/floods resulting from climate change. Dealing with the issues of climate change and fixing the cost-of-living crisis go together. Both these testing issues on the family have the same mainspring. The dependence on pricey and polluting fossil fuels shows that both challenges have the same solution. 

MYTH - Renewable Energy can only work when it is not cloudy or windy. 

Fast and furiously the energy industry is developing new storage methods electricity and peak time delivery of power. This means that even if the weather is not sunny or it is not windy, renewable energy sources can still be relied upon. The UK National Grip provides most of the electricity to UK homes. Clean energy suppliers, using renewable energy sources guarantee that for every unit of electricity you take out of the grid, they will ensure that the same of clean energy is put back in. This helps clean up our energy supply.

So what?

Hopefully, the information provided has counteracted some of the climate change myths you may be seeing/hearing. Climate change is not a future problem.  There is no longer an excuse for not acting upon it. If we do not it only pushes the burden of addressing the climate crisis onto future generations. Climate change is already being experienced at home and abroad. Changes on global food supplies, migration, conflict, disease, and global instability all of which will worsen if no action is taken now. Human-made climate change is the biggest crisis of our time and threatens the future of the planet that we depend on for our survival and our nearest and dearest.

Let us all do something about it.

WEA in its Green Curriculum aims to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and communities to act towards a more sustainable future and to deal with the effects of climate change. They look at sustainability in general, how to deal with green issues, permaculture, and the more organic subjects about the environment. Under the Humanities and Science category in Nature, Ecology & Permaculture, WEA delivers several courses which will discuss that dispel the climate change myths that are out there. Every increase by a fraction of a degree of warming matters

Click the button below to explore our environmental courses and learn more about green issues. 

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Lee Armon
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About the author

Lee Armon

Environmental Science & Sustainability Tutor

Lee is an Environmental Science and Sustainability Tutor at WEA. He is also a Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner. In other words, if you want to know anything about climate issues or sustainability, Lee is the person to go to!