Do you believe that climate change is real or do you think that it always changes and there’s nothing to be concerned about?
Some think that it is real and moreover, humans are to blame. Others believe it is simply scaremongering. So who should we believe?
The evidence of course.
Here are 5 facts about climate change:
1. THE TEMPERATURES ARE RISING
This is not in dispute. Since the 1900’s, the Earth’s average surface air temperature has risen by roughly 0.8 °C (1.4 °F). This corresponds to other indications such as:
- Melting ice caps
- Reduced sea ice
- Warmer oceans
- Migration of temperature-sensitive species
They all point to higher temperatures worldwide. Temperatures are taken from thousands and thousands of monitoring points across the globe. They include sources such as tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, corals and historical data.
Take the average surface temperature, however. Estimates indicate that the period from 1983 to 2012 was likely to be the warmest 30-year period within 800 years. In conclusion, temperatures recorded show a marked increase in the last 200 years (coincidently as the Industrial Revolution started).
With this in mind, surely CO2 emissions have to be a major factor?
So, should we be worried?
Are CO2 emissions responsible for climate change? Not according to some experts.
You might have heard of the ‘Hockey Stick’ graph that showed temperatures shooting up in the late 20th century. The graph resembled a hockey stick lying down, with even, consistent temperatures representing the handle of the stick.
Then in 1998, temperatures rise dramatically, like the blade of the hockey stick. This would seem to indicate that the rise in temperatures corresponded to an increase in CO2 gasses. However, there were several problems with this graph.
It only used data from one source, did not allow for error margins and did not go back far enough in time.
In fact, the Hockey Stick graph left out one period of time called the ‘Medieval Warm Period’. This is a period that is said to have occurred around 1000 years ago and was a time where the planet went through a warming phase.
A phase with temperatures similar to today’s. As there were no C02 emissions in those days, the climate change must have been entirely natural.
2. SEA LEVELS ARE RISING
- Added water from melting glaciers
- Expansion of seawater as it warms
In the 20th century, the sea was rising an average of 1.7mm per year. Since the start of the 21st century, this has almost doubled to 3.2mm a year. Forecasting sea levels can be problematic.
Scientists tend to be cautious, and recent estimates have been low at under 60cm by 2100. However, this estimate did not include two major ice masses – Greenland and the Antarctic. If they melted it would raise the sea levels by 65 meters.
Some experts are stating that soon the smaller island nations, such as Tuvalu, the Maldives and Kiribati might vanish under the sea if levels continue to rise.
So are sea levels rising due to climate change?
Direct evidence suggests that in the case of smaller island nations at least, it is not likely that they will vanish. In fact, all estimates show that they are increasing in mass. Something that definitely would not happen if the seas were rising.
One study examined changes in the geography of the reef islands and atolls of Tuvalu. It found that the total land area had increased by 2.9%. Factors such as sediment dumped by storms and wave patterns were thought to offset any damage by rising sea levels.
Another study backed these results. 27 islands were studied over a 19 – 61 year period. Only 14% showed a net reduction in size. The others exhibited larger gross changes.
3. ICE IS MELTING
We have all seen those disturbing scenes of crashing glaciers, melting into the oceans. Polar bears stranded on melting floating ice patches. Since 2007, Arctic ice is at a record low. Experts are warning that it is melting so quickly that the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice-free by the mid-century.
Sea ice in the Arctic has already fallen by 40%, which is an unprecedented loss in human history. Furthermore, the thickness and volume have also decreased. The trouble is that losing sea ice is an exponential problem.
White, reflective ice is replaced with dark water which absorbs more energy from the sun. This warms up water and more ice is melted, and so on.
So is ice melting down to climate change?
According to the European Space Agency, in 2013 and 2014, the amount of Arctic actually increased by more than 30%. Much more incredible, however, is what’s going on at the other end of the pole. The amount of ice in Antarctica has never been greater.
NASA began recording the amount of ice in this region in 1979. In recent years, data has shown that the ice has increased dramatically. As a result, there is more polar ice today than since recordings began.
And don’t worry about the polar bears. Estimations show a gradual rise in population.
4. WEATHER IS BECOMING MORE EXTREME
Have you noticed that almost every other week there is yet another devastating hurricane or storm that’s ravaged homes and destroyed buildings? Cyclones like Katrina must prove that our weather is becoming more extreme.
There’s also the heatwaves, causing famine for Third World countries, and floods in areas where you wouldn’t expect them.
So what exactly is going on?
Well despite the fact that it might seem we’re getting more extreme and frequent bouts of weather, there is no evidence to support it. We might hear about disastrous weather conditions more often, but it doesn’t mean there are more occurring.
As for droughts and heatwaves, one study showed they were becoming rarer, not more common. In fact, in the last 100 years, 30 of the major drought occurred within the first 60 years, whereas in the 1960’s and 80’s there were 5 and in the last 20 years just 2.
5. 97% OF ALL SCIENTISTS BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE
This famous percentage of 97, in which “97% of all climate scientists” still believe in climate change due to global warming by man. Even President Obama has quoted the 97%. So where has this number come from?
Several authors wrote a paper to settle the climate change question of ‘Are humans responsible for climate change?’ Over 12000 scientists took part in this paper and over 97% agreed with the consensus that humans were causing climate change.
However, an analysis of this consensus was untaken by a student for their Master’s degree. It showed that from a sample of 10,257 scientists, only 77 were actual ‘climate scientists’. Furthermore, of the 77, all but 2 had endorsed the consensus, which is where the 97% comes from. This, of course, represents a tiny proportion of the paper.
Well, after all these facts and misconceptions, what do you think?
Is climate change real? Is it man-made? Or do you believe it is a natural occurrence?
Let us know! We’d love to hear your views!
By Janey D.
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