Ten More Arguments Against Climate Change-Debunked!

In the time since I wrote my last article debunking common climate change denier myths, I’ve come across several more that I feel need to be addressed. Some I heard from my Dad or other family members and others from documentaries specifically trying to debunk some of these myths. I figured I’d throw my two cents in the ring to maybe help science win out over the short-sighted greed of Big Oil, Big Coal, and the lying politicians that help keep them in business. No need for a grandiose intro; let’s just jump right into it!

1. It’s the volcanoes, stupid!

Over the past 250 years, humans have added just one part of CO2 in 10,000 to the atmosphere. One volcanic cough can do this in a day.

Ian Plimer, “Legislative time bomb,” ABC News Australia, August 13th, 2009

It is undoubtedly true that there is far more carbon stored in the rocks of the Earth’s crust than there is in the atmosphere or the ocean. It is also true that volcanoes expel anywhere from 65 to 319 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Here’s the catch, though. Scientists have demonstrated that the amount of CO2 pumped into the air due to the burning of fossil fuels equates to an average of 34 billion tons, about 100 times greater than the volume produced by volcanoes.

Yes, volcanoes do influence climate patterns, but that has far more to do with sulfate aerosols than carbon emissions, and those tend to cause cooling rather than warming as they reflect sunlight.

Speaking of which…

2. Warming is caused by a lack of volcanic activity.

It is true that the early twentieth century was largely bereft of big explosions between the eruption of Novarupta in Alaska in 1912 and the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali in 1963. It is also true that recent eruptions (most notably Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991) caused global temperatures to decrease as much as 0.3 degrees Celsius.

However, scientists have demonstrated that the comparative lack of volcanic activity between 1925 and 1960 cannot account for the warming that has occurred since the 1970s. Indeed, measurements of aerosol optical thickness, or AOD, data since 1979 has shown that only about 0.12 degrees Celsius at most of the 0.5 degrees of surface warming observed during that period can be attributed to volcanic activity.

Indeed, the studies have shown that volcanoes have had a net cooling effect over the past 50-65 years… which has sadly been canceled out by the rising CO2 emissions in that same amount of time. Yay!
3. It’s the solar cycles, stupid!

I already discussed solar cycles, specifically the solar magnetic activity cycle, in the previous climate change myths article, in which I debunked the common myth that sunspots have more to do with warming climate than the greenhouse effect. I especially made clear that the gap between Cycle 23 and Cycle 24 displayed above should have meant a global drop in temperature between 2000 and 2008 (albeit with a different graph than this one), which clearly did not happen. However, there are other solar cycles deniers have turned to in trying to prove their “superior knowledge,” including the Milankovich cycle.

Unlike the magnetic activity cycle, which has more to do with varying solar radiation levels, the Milankovich cycle has more to do with eccentricities in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. First hypothesized by Serbian astronomer and geophysicist Milutin Milankovich in the 1920s, this theory has helped planetary climatologists demonstrate how changes in Earth’s orbit can affect planetary climate patterns.

Naturally, climate change deniers have seized on this cycle to try to explain away the recent warming trend. Indeed, I recently remember hearing my Dad explain to Mom about some kind of thousands-year-long cycle (I want to say 30-40,000 years) that the Earth was going into again as yet another reason why there’s nothing to worry about.

However, there’s one big reason why this assumption is way off base, as NASA’s climate blog demonstrates. The changes caused by any of the variables covered by the Milankovich cycle (changes in orbit shape, in Earth axial precession or “wobbling,” and changes in the planet’s tilt) work on geologic time, meaning that they take thousands of years to have any noticeable effects. It is exceedingly evident that the warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution has risen far too fast to be caused by anything other than the burning of fossil fuels.

Furthermore, the planet is currently in an interglacial period, which means that global temperatures should have continued on a 6,000-year downward trend. But the sheer amount of CO2 we’ve been adding to the atmosphere has canceled much of that out. The same NASA article I linked above mentions that natural concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to vary between 180 and 280 parts per million (or PPM for short). The current concentration rests at around 417 PPM, the highest levels we’ve seen in 650,000 years. Be afraid, people!

4. Other planets are warming.

This argument has been applied to eight other large bodies orbiting around our Sun. Most of these arguments tend to focus on four in particular: Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. Deniers argue that if these other planets are warming, it is proof positive that it is solar radiation and not CO2 warming the Earth.

Let us examine each of these planets, in turn, to see if these arguments hold up to scrutiny:

First of all, collecting climate data from Mars is problematic since we know so little about the Red Planet. Still, there are various factors that scientists point out that we should take into account when assessing its climate patterns:

  • First, the Red Planet’s orbital eccentricities are five times greater than that of Earth’s.
  • Second, unlike Earth, Mars has no oceans and a very thin atmosphere, making its climate much more suceptible to extraterrestrial influences.
  • Third, Mars frequently experiences massive dust storms which have an enormous impact on climate patterns.
  • Finally, we have little to no historical data prior to the 1970s to compare with current observed changes, so we have no way of knowing if these changes are frequent trends or infrequent outliers.

Jupiter has not actually experienced any observed warming. Such warming is predicted based on the idea that several of the gas giant’s famous storms along the equator are merging into one humungous super-storm, which is projected to cause warming around the planet’s equator and cooling at its poles.

The argument that Neptune is warming is based on an observed increase in the planet’s luminosity around 2007 and that of its largest moon, Triton. However, this was a case of seasonal change: Neptune takes around 165 years, which means that it only completed its first orbit since it was discovered in 1846 in 2011. What scientists observed was summer coming to Neptune’s southern hemisphere.

As for Pluto, determining its climate patterns is even more problematic than with Mars. Its orbit takes 248 years, and it was only discovered in 1930. It has only been briefly visited one space probe, the New Horizons, in July of 2015. Indeed, the only “evidence” that the dwarf planet is warming comes from two observations made in 1998 and 2002. As SkepticalScience.com points out, that would be equivalent to making observations about Earth’s climate based on data collected over just three weeks out of a whole year! We simply do not know enough about Pluto to make these kinds of judgments.

Finally, I reiterate that solar radiation levels have been on a downward trend for the last forty years! The Sun is not causing this abnormal warming!

5. There was no warming during the Industrial Revolution.

Why didn’t we have global warming during the Industrial Revolution? In those days you couldn’t have seen across the street for all the carbon emissions and the crap coming out of the chimneys.

Alan Titchmarsh, quoted in “Back to nature,” The Telegraph, October 6, 2007

I remember my grand-uncle making a similar argument around Thanksgiving. He claimed that we would have seen it long before contemporary times if CO2 really were causing a worldwide increase in temperature. But here’s a good question for people who make this kind of argument: How much CO2 do you think it takes to cause a noticeable warming trend?

I don’t know what their answer would be, but, as always, scientists have crunched the numbers. In the late 18th century, during the first fifty years of the Industrial Revolution, emissions averaged out to about 3-7 million metric tons. By about 1850, the average had increased to 54 million. And what’s the current emission rate? Ten billion metric tons of CO2 a year, I shit you not!

Original Data citation: “Marland, G., T.A. Boden, and R. J. Andres. 2007. Global, Regional, and National CO2 Emissions. In Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.”.

As for Titchmarsh’s quote up above… you do realize that carbon emissions are different from soot, right?

6. The switch to renewables will destroy the economy.

One major study that pushes this myth was complied by Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada Alvarez in 2009, who claimed that for every new job created in the alternative energy sector, Spain lost 2.2 jobs in other economic sectors. Let’s put aside the fact that Calzada is involved with a libertarian think tank that takes money from Exxon Mobil (which alone should discredit him) and instead examine the multiple ways the study fails with even a cursory glance.

First, the study underestimated the number of jobs created by renewable energy in Spain since 2000. Calzada claims the number of jobs created was less than 50,200, whereas the United Nations Environmental Programme puts the number closer to 188,000.

Second, Calzada’s arguments should mean that the Spanish province of Navarre, which currently obtains 70% of its energy from renewable sources, should be experiencing high unemployment. However, Jose Maria Roig Aldasoro, the province’s Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise, and Employment, pointed out in direct response to Calzada’s study that unemployment in Navarre decreased from 12.8% in 1994 to less than 5% in 2007.

Third, Calzada was discovered to have cherry-picked data in order to support his conclusions. Perhaps most egregiously, he claimed that solar energy destroyed 15,000 jobs in the previous year, seemingly ignoring that that is a drop in a bucket compared to a 500% increase in the sector over the previous three years.

Fourth, Calzada seems to operate under the belief that government subsidies into the creation of green jobs crowd out private investments, which he believes are more efficient at job creation. This ignores the fact that private investments are at an all-time low thanks to economic stagnation and that this only really works when all economic resources are being utilized, which very rarely happens.

Finally, Calzada is proven wrong by the fact that many studies, including one done in 2004 by UC Berkeley, have shown that the renewable energy sector creates more jobs than fossil fuels, mostly because renewable energy tends to involve more labor-intensive manufacturing, installation, and maintenance than coal or oil extraction and transportation. True, renewable energy tends to be more expensive than nonrenewable, but that’s only because fossil fuel companies do not account for the air pollution and health effects that their products produce.

In short, Calzada’s study was clearly reaching for excuses to support oil over solar to make its Exxon donors happy. Speaking of being paid off…

7. Climate scientists are being paid off.

It is, of course, very tempting to dismiss this argument as a case of psychological projection. After all, it’s common knowledge by now how Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries, and other fossil fuel companies have spent years lobbying politicians and the public to sow doubt about the scientific consensus behind anthropogenic climate change. But for the sake of argument, let us see how conservatives justify this narrative in their own words:

In truth, the overwhelming majority of climate-research funding comes from the federal government and left wing foundations. And while the energy industry funds both sides of the climate debate, the government/foundations monies go only toward research that advances the warming regulatory agenda. With a clear public policy outcome in mind, the government/foundation gravy train is a much greater threat to scientific integrity.

Henry Payne, “Global Warming: Follow the Money,” National Review, February 25, 2015

How do skeptics claim that scientists acquire such funds? Mainly research grants, which sometimes can reach millions of dollars. However, Scott Mandia, writing on his WordPress blog, has a question for deniers who follow this line of reasoning:

How many climate scientists are driving a Mercedes sports coupe or other $100,000+ car into a three car garage in a posh gated neighborhood?

Scott Mandia, “Taking the Money for Grant(ed)- Part 1,” Global Warming: Man or Myth?, updated on March 22, 2010

Mandia uses a NASA grant proposal he and his team received the month he wrote that article to demonstrate how grant money is usually spent. Out of the $437,232.67 his team receives over three years, the total costs come out to:

  • $152,678.50 to pay the 135 participants and trainees.
  • $4000 for consulting services to assess the cirricula being developed.
  • $76,064.25 for adminsitrative fees and others that are not collected by those named on the grant.
  • $204,489.92 to actually pay the investigators over the three years.

Mandia himself only receives $16,088.25 per year, while the PI, or principal investigator, at $16,391.77, barely gets over $300 more. Not exactly Mercedes money.

Meanwhile, oil companies like Exxon Mobil and BP made profits in excess of $20 billion in 2020, far more than any company solely investing in green energy, which is certainly enough to sway more unscrupulous scientists into selling their souls to live in the lap of luxury.

Climate scientist Richard Alley also made this salient point regarding this point in this interview:

If we could overturn global warming; if we could prove that CO2 was not a greenhouse gas; if we could prove that we could burn all we want and not worry about it, how exciting would that be?… Is there any possibility [that out of] tens of thousands of scientists, there isn’t one of them that’s got the ego to do that?! It’s absurd! It’s absolutely, unequivabably absurd! We’re people and we’ve got it in us the way people do.

“What drives scientists- Richard Alley,” published by the channel UQx Denial101x Making Sense of Climate Science Denial on August 25, 2015

Trust me, if any scientist ever found definitive proof that CO2 emissions weren’t causing climate change, everyone from National Geographic to ExxonMobil to the New York Times and everyone in between would be hailing them as the hero or heroine of the century. But none has arrived so far, and until then, we have to treat anthropogenic warming as an absolute certainty.

8. Why are we focusing on America and ignoring China?

It’s easy for deniers to cry hypocrisy when it comes to comparing America’s CO2 output with China’s. After all, China has had the dubious honor of being the largest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2006. Take this graph from 2017, for instance.

Complied by Wikipedia user Mgcontr based on data from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (or EDGAR, for short)

Indeed, since China’s total CO2 emissions far outpace those of the United States, you might understand at first glance why deniers might be incensed by environmentalists giving the U.S. such a hard time when China is clearly so much worse.

But notice the right-hand side of the graph. That side shows the tons of CO2 per person that were released into the atmosphere in 2017. When one looks at the data there, one can easily see that America’s CO2 emissions are far greater than China’s (which is rather impressive, given that China’s population of over 1.4 billion is far larger than America’s).

One also has to look at the cumulative amount of CO2 each country has historically emitted from 1850 in order to truly make the comparison fair. When looking through the lens of this metric, it becomes obvious that the U.S. once again outpaces China by a wide margin.

Date source: Evans, Simon¬†Analysis: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change? / Historical responsibility for climate change is at the heart of debates over climate justice..¬†CarbonBrief.org. Carbon Brief (5 October 2021). “Source: Carbon Brief analysis of figures from the Global Carbon Project, CDIAC, Our World in Data, Carbon Monitor, Houghton and Nassikas (2017) and Hansis et al. (2015).”

But even if all of this wasn’t true, so what? Do any other countries’ CO2 emissions absolve us of our own climatological sins? As the biggest global superpower, don’t you think we should be setting a good example for others to follow? I’m just saying, maybe those three-quarters of a trillion dollars that we spend on our military every year might be better spent on building up instead of breaking down.

9. CO2 limits will hurt the poor.

Climate change skeptics love to argue that enforcing restrictions on CO2 emissions would have a dangerous impact on the GDP of developing nations like India and many countries in Africa and South America. Of course, as my debunking of myth no. 6 on this list demonstrates, investment in renewables is likely to help these countries more than hurt them. But, of course, the real question here is, “Which will hurt the Global South more? CO2 limits or climate change itself?”

To answer this question, James Samson led a team of climate scientists in creating a new metric known as the Climate Demography Vulnerability Index (or CDVI for short) in 2011. First, they measured how much a population in any region on Earth is predicted to grow as well as how much the local climate is expected to change to determine which areas are most vulnerable. This showed that the areas most vulnerable to climate change were central South America, Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Middle East.

They next compared this metric to the amount of CO2 emissions that each country produced per capita and found that the countries that contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions were the ones most affected.

It is also highly unlikely that these countries will have the infrastructure necessary to handle these drastic climate impacts. In this light, Skeptical Science.com argues that the assertion that “CO2 impacts will hurt the poor” is just a dog-whistle for “Rich, developed countries should be allowed to pollute as much as they want.”

This kind of entitlement, along with the massive waves of immigration that are likely to result from climate impacts in the Global South, lead to the final climate myth I will cover here, which is by far the darkest of them all.

10. Overpopulation is causing the warming trend.

Here is where the ugly specter of fascism rears its ugly head once again.

Many experts have noticed that the far-right is starting to turn away from outright climate denial and finding an alternative source for the warming trend. They blame overpopulation, immigration, and multicultural attitudes towards certain populations they see as inferior.

“But Preston,” I imagine you must be asking from beyond your computer screens, “isn’t environmentalism a left-wing ideology.” Not always. Many ecofascists today (perhaps most notably Anders Brevik) have cited Madison Grant as an influence. You may remember Grant as one of the founders of the wildlife management discipline, but he is far more infamous for his influence in the fields of eugenics and scientific racism. Perhaps the most damning indictment of Grant’s legacy is the fact that none other than Adolf Hitler referred to his 1916 book The Passing of the Great Race as “my Bible.”

Speaking of the Nazis, much of their ideology also contained ecological undertones. Social ecologist Janet Biehl has argued that the Nazis had a deep abiding interest in “traditional agrarian romanticism and a hostility to urban civilization.” Indeed, the infamous white nationalist slogan “Blood and Soil” was first popularized by prominent Nazi ecologist and race theorist Richard Walther Darre, explicitly tying the Aryan race’s ancestry to the land that is “rightfully” theirs.

Ecofasict tendencies have continued to flourish through the writings of radicals like Ted “the Unabomber” Kaczynski, and Pentti Linkola. You may remember me mentioning Linkola in my Halloween article on Deathspell Omega, where their suspected vocalist, Mikko Aspa, cited him as an influence on his politics. Allow me to provide you with some more context as to why Aspa’s support of this man is such a red flag.

Linkola, who died in April 2020 at the age of 87, believed that democracies were ineffectual at preventing large-scale ecological collapse and that the only way to save humanity was mass murder to curb exponential population growth. He was a devout believer in “lifeboat ethics,” a philosophical concept developed by Garrett Hardin, an American ecologist well known for his anti-immigrant activism. Indeed, this Linkola quote succinctly (and chillingly) summarizes what lifeboat ethics is all about:

What to do when a ship carrying one hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides of the boat.

Pentti Linkola, The Doctrine of Survival and Doctor Ethics, 1992

We’ve seen similar expressions of a need to stop overpopulation even in more left-wing philosophies like anarcho-primitivism and the deep ecology movement, who also often argue for a drastic reduction in human population growth to prevent ecological catastrophe.

But I think all this is missing an important question: Does human overpopulation even exist in the first place? Leaving aside the fact that I already demonstrated that the Global South has little to no impact on greenhouse gas emissions, many environmentalists have argued that people arguing this Malthusian rhetoric are painting a reductive picture of what is really going on.

United Nations statistics have pointed out that population growth has actually slowed worldwide since the 1960s will likely start to level out sometime later this century and then start declining. Other critics have argued that issues like world hunger aren’t caused by overpopulation; they’re caused by late-stage capitalist inefficiency leading to resources not getting where they need to. Still others have argued that fears of overpopulation in the Global South have racist and colonialist undertones to them (for example, American biologist Paul Ehrlich claimed that his 1968 book The Population Bomb was first inspired by a trip he took to Delhi, India). As environmentalist David Roberts notes in this article he wrote for Vox, “where you find concern over ‘population,’ you very often find racism, xenophobia, or eugenics waiting in the wings.”

Indeed, Roberts also correctly notes that population growth often slows whenever women become more educated and start entering the workforce. He also points to income inequality as a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions.

So once again, the problem turns out to be capitalism all along. Why am I not surprised?


And that’s the end of this second go-round at helping to put paid to several more climate change myths. Once again, a big thank you to SkepticalScience.com for helping inform the critiques of these new myths. Join me next time for some more debunking as I dive into the mysterious waters of the Bermuda Triangle to uncover the truth behind some of its most famous disappearances. Until next time, friends.

Top 10 Arguments Against Climate Change- Debunked!

In addition to calling myself an anarcho-communist, I’ve also come to think of myself lately as a “recovering conservative.” My relationship with anthropogenic climate change is a big reason why. My family used to accept the narrative that recent warming trends resulted from humanity’s use of fossil fuels pretty easily. But then around November 2009, the email server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit was hacked, leaking several emails that seemed to incriminate the scientists involved as deliberately fudging data to make the warming trend seem worse than it actually was. I’m not sure whether my Dad had had doubts before this story leaked or whether it was the story that planted the seeds in the first place. Either way, my family, my dad and grandfather, in particular, became strident climate change deniers.

I followed suit for several years afterward. But toward the second half of my college tenure, I began to see that I had been grossly misled. I learned that the so-called “Climategate” emails had been totally taken out of context, that the Medieval Warm Period wasn’t really that warm at all, and that the real reason I didn’t believe in global warming was because the Koch Brothers didn’t want me to believe.

Thankfully, the one on the left is burning in Hell for his lies now.

So allow me to present some of the most popular claims conservatives make to “debunk” anthropogenic climate change and show you how the science proves them wrong in ten easy points. Perhaps the best place to start would be the one that put me on this journey in the first place…

1. Climategate proved that the scientists were frauds.

As stated above, the scandal occurred in November of 2009 when the servers of the C.R.U. at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England were hacked. The result was over 1,000 emails and 2,000 scientific documents being released to the public. The denial crowd took certain quotes out of context to implicate leading climate scientists, including Dr. Michael E. Mann…

Not that one.
There you go!

…of deliberately suppressing data that conflicted with the scientific consensus. One particular favorite of the denial crowd was this quote from an email by fellow scientist Phil Jones:

I’ve just completed Mike’s nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series from the last 20 years [1981 onward] and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Phil Jones, C.R.U. Director

What the deniers failed to realize, however, was that Jones was not referring to a decline in temperature, but what is known to science as the “divergence problem.” This refers to the fact that temperature estimations gathered from tree rings are reliable until around 1960 when they diverge wildly. Some deniers have latched onto this to discredit the so-called “hockey stick” graphs that show unprecedented warming in the 20th century. However, actual scientists widely agree that the divergence problem is also anthropogenic in nature since it is a phenomenon unique to the last few decades.

Another quote widely cited by deniers is this one from Kevin Trenberth:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty we can’t.

Kevin Trenberth

Trenberth isn’t admitting that the warming trend has stopped. He is lamenting how the climate observation systems cannot comprehensively track all energy flowing through the climate system, leading to cases where surface temperatures sometimes show short cooling trends.

Of course, despite the deniers ranting and raving about how these scientists should be sacked for their lies and duplicity, eight separate committees investigating the case could find absolutely no evidence of fraud or misconduct. Still, like many other deniers, my family didn’t realize the truth that science is fucking complicated, and the damage was done.

2. Scientists were worried about global cooling in the 70’s.

That’s certainly what the newspapers at the time say they did, but I’m sure we’re all aware of the news media’s penchant for sensationalism.

The global cooling scare largely came from many temperature readings from the three decades before the 1970s that suggested a cooling trend. Some scientists ended up jumping the gun and started warning that our planet’s 10,000 year-long inter-glacial period might be ending, and thus we were in for a new ice age.

By around 1980, however, reexaminations of the data showed that the cooling trend was only true in parts of the Northern Hemisphere and that global temperature trends had actually held steady throughout that period. Of course, if one looks at all the scientific studies on climate done when the cooling scare was at its height, we see that there were still far more scientists worried about warming.

As they say on Twitter, that’s one hell of a ratio.

But sadly, the news media couldn’t help themselves, and they blew the “global cooling” story out of proportion. Thus, when the global warming phenomenon became more mainstream in the late 80s, it’s not hard to see why so many people saw the scientists contradicting themselves and decided they didn’t know what they were talking about. Couple that with oil companies like Exxon and Koch Industries leading denial campaigns, and we have the endlessly frustrating situation we find ourselves embroiled in today.

3. CO2 lags behind temperature.

I think I’ll let Republican Representative Joe Barton explain the denier narrative here:

An article in Science magazine illustrated that a rise in carbon did not precede a rise in temperatures but actually lagged behind temperature rises by 200 to 1000 years. A rise in carbon dioxide levels could not have caused a rise in temperature if it followed the temperature.

Joe Barton (R-Texas (1985-2019)

Scientists do concede the ‘lagging’ point. However, they are also quick to point out that people like Barton are not telling the whole story. The warming trends back then were initiated by slight changes in the way the Earth orbits around the Sun. With more sunlight hitting Earth, the planet starts to warm up. As it warms, more CO2 is released into the atmosphere. And of course, more CO2 means higher rises in temperature. This is an important and perfectly natural state of affairs since it is necessary for the planet to transition out of glacial periods and into interglacial periods.

So yes, CO2 was not the cause of those particular warming spells. No, that does not mean that CO2 is not the cause of this particular warming trend. And no, that does not mean the sun is causing us to warm up now.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re not exactly in the middle of a glacial period right now.

Speaking of the sun causing global warming…

4. It’s the sunspots, stupid.

This is my dad’s current go-to explanation for what is causing the warming trend. The last time I challenged him on this, he showed me this graph:

He made sure to highlight the Dalton Minimum as well, noting how temperatures were at lower than average levels during that period.

However, you may notice that the graph ends in the year 2000. What went on with the sunspots after that point? SkepticalScience.com has the answer:

Seem pretty self-explanatory to me. Over the last 35 years, the Earth’s temperature and solar activity have actually diverged. If the sun was indeed the main cause of Earth’s temperature, we should have seen a cooling trend between 2000 and 2008. But we didn’t. Sorry, deniers, but you’re gonna have to do better than that.

Also, the coldest part of the Dalton Minimum, the Year Without a Summer, was directly connected with the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, but that’s neither here nor there.

5. It’s the Urban Heat Island effect, stupid.

The Urban Heat Island effect, or U.H.I., is a phenomenon where areas with a more highly concentrated human population are slightly warmer than rural areas. This is mainly caused by the fact that buildings significantly modify the original land surface, as well as waste heat from things like internal combustion engines and air conditioners.

Given the rapid growth of urban environments after the Industrial Revolution, it’s not hard to see why some may conclude that it is the extra heat produced by these cities that may contribute to warming trends. However, scientists have been careful to include data from stations located far away from human activity. Take this graph gathered from stations in China, for instance:

As you can see, both urban and rural observation stations have recorded almost identical rises in temperature over the last three decades. This is very significant, as China has probably had the most rapid urban growth over the last few decades. If that doesn’t convince you, take a look at this graph, courtesy of NASA:

For reference, the numbers on the bottom show how high the temperature has risen since 1885.

As you can see, the highest rises in temperature have mainly occurred in the Arctic regions and Siberia, which isn’t where most urbanization is occurring nowadays. So yeah, not really convinced by this one either.

6. Polar ice caps/glaciers are recovering.

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack with this one, so I’ll split it into three sections, dealing with Antarctica, the Arctic, and glaciers, respectively.

  • Antarctica

Deniers have seized on certain scientific articles suggesting that Antarctica is gaining ice to discredit the warming narrative. What these deniers don’t realize, however, is that these articles are referring to sea ice, not land ice.

This is significant because sea ice has a very negligible effect on rising sea levels, whereas land ice has a very significant effect. Scientists believe that rising sea ice levels are due to a combination of the hole in the ozone layer closing and an increasing rate of meltwater from land ice causing the Southern Ocean to cool.

Yes, you heard, right. More sea ice around Antarctica means less land ice on the continent. Less land ice means less Florida to go around. Got it? Good! Moving on.

  • The Arctic

Meanwhile, Greenland is not gaining ice, as some anecdotal evidence claims, but is, in fact, losing it at seven times the rate it was thirty years ago. True, the melting is mostly limited to coastal regions around the southern part of the island (for now at least), but there is no evidence that the melting will stop as the ice sheet shrinks inland.

As for Arctic sea ice, we also have two different ways of talking about it: first, how far it spreads (aka extent), and second, how thick it is (aka volume). One also has to consider multi-year ice, which has accumulated over time and is thus much thicker than first-year ice. No matter which way you look at it, though, it is clear that sea ice in the Arctic is vanishing, and very rapidly at that.

I have receipts, too.
  • The Glaciers

Finally, let’s discuss the myth that glaciers have gained ice for the first time in 250 years, according to some deniers. While it certainly is true that some glaciers have gained ice in recent years (as in southwestern Norway in the 90s), these are only because of local weather conditions, like increased snowfall. This in no way disproves the overall trend of glaciers melting all over the world.

Again, look at that ratio!

If you would like a less abstract representation of the shrinking glaciers, take a gander at these photos of glaciers in my home country’s Glacier National Park:

Here’s Grinnell Glacier in 1938…
…and here it is (or not) in September of 2015.

More like Glacier-less National Park, am I right?

7. 500/31,000 scientists have refuted the consensus.

Now and again, certain conservative news sites will break stories claiming to have found enough peer-reviewed scientific papers to help shatter the so-called consensus on climate change. For example, the now-defunct American Conservative Daily website claimed in 2007 that it had more than 500 scientific papers that refuted anthropogenic climate change. Of course, close scrutiny revealed that of the ones that actually did do such a thing (which were few and far between), all of them simply repeated myths that had long since been debunked, like the aformentioned sunspot connection.

Of course, 500 is nothing compared to the thirty-one thousand who allegedly signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (O.I.S.M.) Petition compiled by Oregon State Representative Art Robinson in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The petition stated in part that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

And sure, 31,000 sounds like a lot, but there are several issues with the petition:

  • The petition had a very lax verification process, allowing pranksters to add Star Wars characters, a member of the Spice Girls, and even Charles Darwin to the list.
  • Petition cards were only sent to U.S. citizens, and 31,000 equates to only around 0.3 percent of all science graduates in the entire U.S.
  • The organizers never revealed how many people they canvassed, thus making the response rate impossible to determine.
  • They also never revealed their sampling methodology, a glaring omission since scientists tend to be sticklers about being transparent in gathering data (and rightly so).
  • O.I.S.M. is not a real scientific institute; Robinson founded it as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit in 1980.
Oh, but don’t worry. Conservative big-wigs have totally stopped the practice of founding fake educational institutions to falsely bolster their arguments.
8. The Medieval Warm Period was warmer.

This argument is one that my grandfather in particular is very fond of. Any time the subject of climate change or global warming pops up, you can almost always expect some variation of the following to come out of his mouth:

What really gets me is that the world was warmer than this during the Middle Ages, and the world didn’t go to hell then.

Grandpa D

For those who aren’t aware, the Medieval Warm Period was a period of time in Europe that lasted from 800-1400 CE, where temperatures were warmer than today. This allowed the colonization of Greenland and North America by the Vikings and increased agricultural production in Northern Europe.

However, this was not the case in all parts of the world during that period. While some other areas of the world also showed higher temperatures during that period (China and parts of North America, for instance), other areas, particularly the tropical Pacific, showed cooler temperatures. If one was to even out all the temperature readings across the globe during that period, we get an average temperature roughly equivalent to what it was in the 1950s.

So, yeah. That one’s off the table.

9. Nature produces more CO2 than man.

The oceans contain 37,400 billion tons (GT) of suspended carbon; land biomass has 2000-3000 GT. The atpmosphere [sic] contains 720 billion tons of CO2 and humans contribute only 6 GT additional load to this balance. The oceans, land, and atpmosphere [again, sic] exchange CO2 continuously so the additional load by humans is incredibly small. A small shift in the balance between oceans and air would cause a CO2 much more severe rise than anything we could produce.

Jeff Id on noconsensus.wordpress.com

If one was to get past the rather poor grammar on Jeff’s comments here, you might think he has a point here. After all, six additional gigatons of CO2 isn’t so bad, right? Right?

But here’s a better question: Where does all that extra CO2 go when it gets in the atmosphere? The I.P.C.C. estimates that about 40% gets absorbed into the ocean and plant life, but the rest just hangs around in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect. Sure, 6 additional GT’s of CO2 might not seem like much, but if Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life has taught us anything, sometimes it only takes a wafer-thin mint for the whole system to go code Chernobyl.

10. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Okay, now this argument is really fucking stupid. What the hell does one cold day in the Adirondacks region of New York have to do with climate change? It’s local weather patterns versus global climate patterns! One snowy day in New York or Australia or Washington D.C. or wherever the fuck else does not disprove the global warming trend that’s been going on for over half a fucking century now!

Sorry, I got a little tense there for a second. Let me end this with a meme to lighten the mood.


In the end, though, I think the biggest reason why I don’t buy into climate change denialism is simply because of Occam’s razor. Maybe it’s just because I have a really optimistic view of human nature, but I fail to see why scientists would raise such a big stink about anthropogenic climate change unless the data shows that it’s actually happening. Think about it: if all the CO2 we pumped in the air really didn’t affect temperature, then no one would care about what they were pumping into the atmosphere in the first place. We probably wouldn’t have even heard of renewable energy if that was the case.

Not only that, but the Pope, the leaders of Fortune 500 companies, every other government in the developed world, and even the goddamned U.S. military seems to agree with them. I think the only way you could dismiss those kinds of voices is if you believe that our society is becoming something like Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. Fortunately, I don’t.

The facts are in. The only provable hypothesis to the question of “What would happen if we pumped a whole bunch of extra CO2 into the atmosphere?” is anthropogenic climate change. We need to act on this information now before it’s too late.


Much love and appreciation to the hardworking folks over at SkepticalScience.com for supplying all of the scientific data for this article. Remember, SkepticalScience.com, for all your denialism debunking needs.