A scientific model of a buckminsterfullerene, a type of molecule composed entirely of carbon, and often found in soot.
Myth One: Climate Change isn’t really happening.
Reality One: There is overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change exists, and that the earth is warming. This warming trend will worsen and human activity has a direct influence on this. In 2007 a group of the top 2000 climate scientists (IPCC) concluded that it was at least 90% certain that the warming of the earth’s surface was a result of human emissions of greenhouse gases rather than natural variations in climate.
Myth Two: So the earth is warming – Won’t that be a good thing?
Reality Two: A warmer climate does not mean sunnier days at the beach all summer. The reality is extreme weather events, resultant flooding and drought and loss of biodiversity. In Malawi the 7 year drought cycle has now become an annual occurence. A rising sea level will inundate low level cities, for example a rise of just 1 metre in sea level will displace 35 million people in Bangladesh alone. Biodiversity will suffer and it is likely that the spread of disease will become more rapid. By the end of the century, in Sub-Saharan Africa it is estimated that 180 million people could die of disease directly attributed to climate change.
Myth Three: It has been far warmer in the past, so what’s the difference now?
Reality Three: Throughout its’ existence the earth has experienced both warm and cold periods. Between approximately 750 million and 580 million years ago, the Earth was in the grip of an ice age more extreme than any seen since. The warmest period was 55 million years ago when global temperature were 5 – 8°C warmer than today, but this extreme temperature increase is believed to have been the result of a massive volcanic eruption which resulted in mass extinction. As such we can look to the past and see what may be in store for our planet and its inhabitants. The extreme climate events that we are beginning to see are likely to increase in future, threatening human existance, society and the planet’s biodiversity.
Myth Four: There is too much uncertainty about the science of climate change. We should wait for better information before responding.
Reality Four: There are several very compelling reasons that we must begin to act right now and the level of uncertainty itself is one of them. Previous studies of the Arctic Sea had estimated that it would be free of ice during summer months by 2060. However with recent dramatic declines in sea ice during the summer months (more than a million sq km melting in the summer of 2007) it is believed that the Artic seas could be ice free in the very near future. With the worst climate change predictions happening earlier than expected it is imperative to act now.
Myth Five: We can’t afford to address Climate Change.
Reality Five: We can’t afford not to address Climate Change. Sir Nicholas Stern (Economic Advisor to the UK Government) concluded that it is up to 20 times cheaper to prevent runaway climate change than it is to try cope with its consequences. For example, the sea will rise to levels of between 90 and 880mm by the end of this century. This is particularly worrying considering that 13 of the world’s largest cities are on coastal plains. A rise in sea level will force a very expensive relocation of people, homes, buildings and roads.