Glaciers are melting, wildfires are burning, rivers are flooding, more and more land is drying out, there are heatwaves, record cold spells, choking hazes, massive rainfalls… But to some the idea of man-made climate change is still just a big conspiracy theory!
For years scientists have dealt with the claims of deniers, who led by the desire of protecting their businesses or unwillingness to change their behaviours, claim that global warming doesn’t exist.
It is an emergency!
The fact is that, an overwhelming percentage of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing the global climate to change in ways that will have damaging consequences both for the environment and for humankind. A new report by 11 258 scientists from 153 countries from a broad range of disciplines warns us that the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency”. The study called “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency” marks the first time a large group of scientists has formally agreed on labelling climate change an “emergency” which is caused by human behaviours and practices that are increasing greenhouse gas emission.
So why do people still think that scientists are faking their data to obtain more research funding? Or that it is a scam forged by people who own shares in renewable energy companies? Or that it is a myth spread by environmentalists in the pursuit of a one-world socialist government?
Tell me why?
Generally, when something big happens, such as the death of a politician or a terrorist attack, people want answers. But for many, the answers given by officials are not enough. Instead they turn to allegations of collusion, intrigue, and cover-ups. Known as conspiracy theories.
Lack of knowledge.
Well, I’d also blame it on boredom in lives and the need to find something to believe in, but usually it’s just a lack of the necessary knowledge and skills to interpret data. Add to that, the ease and speed of digital communication, the fact that everyone can call themselves an “expert” in the social media world nowadays, and that toxic, harmful and misleading “information” is out in the world. Flat Earthers or more recently: Microchip anti-vaxxers…your lives must be very interesting.
Money, money, money…
In general, conspiracy theories aim to protect someone’s business. With climate change conspiracy theories, it’s no different. They benefit certain political parties and groups of rich and powerful people whose businesses harm the environment and who have no intention of investing money and energy to make their establishments more environmentally friendly.
But there are 3 things that differentiate climate change conspiracy theories from classic ones.
First of all, instead of hypothesising that something DOES exists (like a chip in the vaccines), climate change conspirators claim that global warming DOESN’T. They believe, that the evidence of climate change does not exist or that it is being fabricated by people who have something to gain, therefore global warming is not taking place.
Secondly, people are having a hard time believing that climate change exists, because it’s not being caused by one big event. It’s an example of “proportionality bias” – the tendency to assume that big events have big causes. In the case of climate change however, ONE BIG EVENT (climate change) is a consequence of SMALL everyday FACTORS, such as the transport we use or the food we eat.
“So what that I eat meet? I’m only one person and that for sure does not cause climate change”.
Thirdly, climate change conspiracy theories are more harmful than others! Fake news on social media and toxic environments of conspirators may steer public opinion and policies away from efforts to reduce the impact of global warming. If people think that climate change doesn’t exist, they won’t change their behaviours and won’t adapt to more eco-friendly solutions that could help Mother Earth. Which in long term will result in more harm to the environment.
According to research, 40% of Americans think that climate change is a hoax and that climate scientists are lying. This attitude is the scariest.
So what do the conspirators claim?
Let’s break down those climate change conspiracy theories!
Fake claim 1: Climate change is a part of the natural Earth cycle.
Yes, there are natural cycles. Geological records stretching back millions of years do in fact indicate a number of large variations in Earth’s climate. These have been caused by many natural factors, including changes in the sun, volcanoes, Earth’s orbit and CO2 levels.
However, research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that, it is 90% likely that human activity has caused more recent global warming. Scientists have known already since the early 1800s that gases in the atmosphere trap heat and can prove that global CO2 emissions from human activity have increased by over 400% since 1950. As a result, the concentration of CO2 in the air has reached more than 400 parts per million by volume (ppm), compared to about 280ppm in pre-industrial times. It’s just math. It causes (also provable) rise of temperatures. The average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade. A one-degree global change is very significant.
To compare, in the past, a one-to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago.
And it’s not the sun that is warming us up. Over the last 35 years the sun has shown a cooling trend. However global temperatures continue to increase.
Fake claim 2: Climate change isn’t that bad, life will find a way.
Well, it’s true that one of the theories says that the Earth will find its way to survive. The Earth as a planet, yes. The life on it, not necessarily. The fact is that the rate of climate change is putting huge ecological stress on our environments.
Let’s take as an example an oak tree. In the past, if its environment became too hot, a tree would simply drop its acorns a few metres north each winter, and over hundreds of years move 50 miles north, where it was cooler. The problem is that now, with humans having destroyed and urbanised so much of the environment, that acorn will likely hit concrete before reaching its promised land. The same goes for bugs, small mammals and fish… there’s simply nowhere to go and no route to get there. It’s the same with us – humans, who got themselves stuck in areas that are becoming uninhabitable. Try selling your house if it’s on a predicted future flood plain…good luck.
The fact is that global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales. Just think of how many are extinct already.
Fake Claim 3: The models used to measure climate change are unreliable.
The models are experiments, not oracles! But they’re the same models that predict your daily weather. And maybe they missed a “shower” here and there, but they’re not predicting snow in summer, are they?
Climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice and the sun. This is clearly a very complex task, so models are built to estimate trends rather than events. Climate models have to be tested to find out if they work
They are tested against the past, against what we know happened. If a model can correctly predict trends from a starting point somewhere in the past, we could expect it to predict with reasonable certainty what might happen in the future.
Fake Claim 4: There’s no scientific consensus
The problem is that society gets climate information from the media, not from scientists. And the media, in an effort to seem unbiased, often line up one climate scientist against one denier to debate their point. But that doesn’t mean that the scientific community is split 50/50 on climate change. Actually it’s more like 97/3. I’ll let you guess which way.
Fake Claim 5: The big conspiracy
Whether it’s scientists lying to earn big research grants, it’s the Templars, Tom Cruise, or aliens… there are dozens of crazy conspiracies trying to prove why climate change reports are not to be trusted. But the craziest idea is, that ALL the scientists in the world are trying to keep one big secret and they all want to secure more money for their research. For one, if scientific evidence for denying climate change existed, don’t you think scientists would be running to BP, Shell and every other rich, coal-burning corporation for big money research grants, instead of relying on limited funding? I don’t think so!
I hope this blog post helped clear some things up and provided information that can continue the discussion on climate change. If necessary.
How about you? Are you a global warming believer or a denier? Do you think that climate change conspiracies are fake or true?
I don’t believe in much, apart from karma and spreading good vibes, but I do believe that human activity is causing climate change. That’s why I’m trying to minimise my impact and the environment. And you can too! It’s not that hard. Check out how to use less plastic in your everyday life. Or – very up to date topic – how to be more eco-friendly in a pandemic.
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