Common Misconceptions Regarding Climate Change

Pew Research Center’s spring 2015 survey found that majorities in all 40 nations polled are concerned about climate change. A global median of 54% believe climate change is a very serious problem. Despite such strong indicators, Americans’ views about climate issues divide sharply along partisan lines.

Such views originate due to misconceptions held about the trivial matter affecting our environment. One of such misconceptions would be the view that climate naturally varies over time, so any change we’re seeing now is just part of a natural cycle. Yes, it is true that climate naturally changes throughout various periods of time. Natural indicators such as tree rings, lake sediments, ice cores can be studied in order to record climate variation throughout history. However, such changes occurred with natural changes in carbon dioxide levels. In reality, CO2 levels are higher now than they have been at any time in the last 650,000 years. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by more than 40% since pre-industrial times, from approximately 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in the 18th century to over 400 ppmv in 2015.

Another common misconception held by climate change deniers is the view that temperatures in some areas aren’t increasing, so global warming is a myth. Although it is true that temperatures aren’t rising at every point in the planet, this does not reflect the true impact of climate change on our environment. Global warming refers to the rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface due to an increased levels of trapped greenhouse gasses. The climate is an extremely complex system. Climate change will not have the same effect everywhere. For example, areas such as Northern Europe could become colder. This, however, does not change the fact that the Earth’s surface temperature has been rising as well as the temperatures of our oceans. These measurements are provided through satellite data as displayed by the image below.

In order to move forward and achieve progress in context to climate change, we as a society must first address the widely held misconceptions regarding this problem. Strong partisanship that is dividing our country should not be a factor to avoid scientific facts that indicate the warming of Earth’s surface. In addition, the government must take necessary steps to educate the people instead of decreasing the budget allocated for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). We should not suppress an issue that risks the health of our planet.