People with concerns about the environment consider the science settled and have long since moved on to solutions for the problems or delved deep into specific issues, such as global warming, water pollution or deforestation.
They are forgetting a simple fact: they are leaving a huge part of the population behind. Depending on which politician – or which news outlet – they listen to, many people still question whether climate change is real.
Sometimes it’s best to stop a moment and go back to basics. If you find yourself facing a climate change denier, don’t get angry. Just calmly share the following and let the facts speak for themselves.
Fact 1: Nine of the 10 Hottest Years Ever Happened in the 21st Century
NASA – which managed to put men into orbit and on the Moon and should probably be respected by even the most skeptical person – keeps track of the Earth’s surface temperatures. Since 1880, the Earth’s average surface temperature has increased about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of that increase coming in the last three decades, according to NASA. With the exception of 1998, the Top 10 hottest years have all been since 2000.
Fact 2: The Hottest Year Ever was 2014
That’s right, last year was the hottest year ever in recorded human history, according to NASA. Just to ensure they weren’t somehow making a terrible mistake, NASA officials asked scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to do its own investigation, and they also found that 2014 was the hottest year ever. On their website, NASA scientists don’t pull any punches or pretend there is still a debate, saying the warming trend “is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere.”
Fact 3: Arctic Sea Ice is Disappearing at an Alarming Rate
Deniers will attempt to argue that glacial ice has expanded and receded before, but this is something completely different. Arctic sea ice expands every year through March and then retracts every summer, with the smallest amount of ice in September. This is important as the ice reflects the sun’s heat and helps keep the planet cooler. However, scientists with the National Snow and Ice Data Center – where they do nothing but study and collect data on the frozen parts of the globe – have found that the amount of Arctic Sea ice in September is declining by about 11 percent per decade. This is faster than computer models predicted, and could result in there being no ice in September before the end of the century.
Fact 4: There Actual Is a Consensus Among Scientists on Global Warming
Skeptics often fall back on the “very likely” language put into scientific reports, as in it is “very likely” human activity is significantly impacting global temperatures. But that’s using science against itself. Scientists often use that language because they are scientists. Here’s the truth: in the early part of the 21st Century, the United Nations sponsored a report in which scientists – working independently and not under UN control – agreed that:
- The climate is undergoing a warming trend beyond what would occur naturally
- The cause of this warming is the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
- This rise is happening because of the burning of fossil fuels
- If the carbon dioxide levels keep rising, so will the temperatures.
- All of this represents a danger to human welfare and civilization
Scientific academies from most major countries have endorsed this paper, including: the United States, Canada, France, China, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, Belgium, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sweden, New Zealand and Ireland.
Fact 5: Weather Is Not Climate
Skeptics will also point to a record cold temperature in one location or an overall colder winter somewhere as an indication that the globe is not warming. The fact is, Earth is huge, weather patterns are chaotic and wildly unpredictable, and one cold day (or even season) in one location does not mean that the global climate is not warming, overall. Climate change is slow but, as the facts above show, it is happening.
Hopefully these facts can help you get out of a debate and into a real conversation: what can we do about climate change?