Climate Change Misconceptions

11 Myths & Misconceptions About Climate Change (Debunked)

Even though it shouldn’t be, climate change is a controversial topic. There are many various reasons why people do not believe in climate change.

The discussion revolving around it is often intense and at the same time loosely based on unreliable opinions shared vigorously from both sides on social media or heard in passing on some TV station.

In this article, we will go through popular misconceptions and myths about climate change and explain how they are debunked by science.

Climate Change Misconceptions

Table of Contents

1. Climate change is not real

Some people deny that the climate is changing at all. Despite having access to scientific reports and news, they simply do not want to face the reality. I have to point out that this group is getting smaller every day. More and more people are, luckily, convinced that we are seeing a change in the climate.

Read this report of the NASA to dispel any remaining doubts. It talks about the multitude of climate change symptoms we see on our planet, including temperature rise, extreme weather events, or glacier retreats.

2. Climate change is real, but not caused by humans

That myth is often brought up by people who realized they will lose credibility if they deny climate change at all. Anyone can see clear evidence that the climate is changing: the sea level is rising, and the summers are getting hotter. So, they “invented” another theory which is harder to invalidate: they claim that climate change cannot be traced back to human-made greenhouse emissions.

No scientist will ever argue about the fact that there is a correlation between greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and temperature increase. If you do not understand why these two elements are connected, you can read this article about the greenhouse effect.

The question is: are we seeing an increased amount of greenhouse gases being trapped in the atmosphere? Yes, we are.

Let’s look at this graph, illustrating the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over time:

Source: Wikimedia (License CC 4.0)

From the 1950, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere literally has skyrocketed.

What’s the only difference between this time and the ones before it? Well, the answer is humans, energy generating methods, urbanization, industrial revolution, and the list goes on.

If you need more scientific proof of the human-made climate change, I recommend reading this article on

3. Climate change is made up by certain people for them to make money

Do certain powerful men purposely spread lies about climate change to gain some sort of profit? These views are commonly backed up by arguments showing that people like Al Gore earn money – a lot of money. Or that he is flying from one place to another when he holds conferences about the environment.

This is nothing but a conspiracy theory. Yes, there are companies selling environmentally friendly products. Yes, some people take a fee when holding speeches in front of thousands of people. But it is still quite bizarre to believe that some people would make up climate change to gain profit. Do they make up all the scientifically measurable trends or natural disasters, too?

4. Climate has been changing for millions of years. Nothing special with the time we live in right now

There is a graph that often is being presented when we hear these arguments:

Source: Wikipedia

The graph itself shows the global temperature over a period of 5 million years. And people find this relevant because it apparently shows that the temperature on the surface of the globe has been constantly changing for millions of years. And that is correct. However, you need to add a couple of other factors and narrow it a bit down to understand why using this graph to prove anything is wrong.

(Another version of this misconception is: “We were in an ice age 12,000 years ago, and we’re coming out of it now, so it’s natural for the Earth to be generally warmer than back then.”)

The problem is not the fact that climate is changing. In fact, it is the speed.

According to several studies, humans have contributed to a rise in temperature at a rate that is 20 times quicker than any other transition period following an ice age. Scientists are also predicting that this rate is still increasing.

This graph illustrates the global temperature over the last two millennia:

Although temperature before the year 1850 haven’t been measured and is just a reconstruction, you can see that the latest rise is nowhere near a natural fluctuation.

An article in The Guardian quoted Gavin Schmidt, a leading NASA scientist, who stated the following about the temperature increase we are currently seeing globally:

“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory (…) It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”

5. The change is not drastic, the temperature is only a few degrees higher

It’s true that the average temperature is only about 4 to 5 °C higher than it was during the last ice age, which was roughly 12 thousand years ago. That, however, doesn’t mean that nothing much has changed as a result. After this “small” rise in temperature, sea levels are now about 100 m higher, and areas that were previously covered in miles of ice have now melted completely.

The fact that the sea level now rises slowly doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. It only means that we are probably being the last generation that will not see significant trouble with the increasing sea levels.

We know for a fact that certain cities are already implementing new technology to handle the threat. This video shows how Miami and Atlantic City are struggling these days:

These are just two of many cities that are already struggling.

Flooding has already become a huge issue – and there are no people who can deny that if they actually look at the evidence. Countries in the Western World would probably afford national plans to fight the rising sea levels. However, many scientists believe that this would become the single biggest reason for why we are going to see more and more climate change refugees in the near future.

6. We’ve had cold winters in recent years, so it doesn’t make sense that the climate is getting warmer

This misconception is based on the lack of distinction between weather and climate. The most common way to describe this distinction is that the weather is what you wear today, but climate is the majority of the items you have in your closet.

When scientists talk about a change in temperature, they don’t mean winter will be cancelled. They are most often talking about average global temperature.

If you actually believe in the myth that one single cold winter equals lack of climate change, you are in agreement with President Donald Trump. He once tweeted:

It’s freezing and snowing in New York–we need global warming!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012 (Account has been blocked.)

I don´t think he fully grasped the concept of climate change yet.

7. There isn’t an agreement between scientists that climate change is real

This is the easiest myth to refute. Several scientific reviews and surveys have concluded that 97% of climate experts agree that climate change is a real problem that warrants attention.

Where does the “97 %” number come from?

A group of scientists went through all the scientific publications that had ever been written on this topic. They found out that 97.1% of all scientific papers concluded that climate change is real – and that the temperature increase we are now seeing is heavily linked to greenhouse gas emissions.

8. Climate change is only caused by Urban Heat Island phenomenon

The Urban Heat Island phenomenon is true and proven, no one can argue with that. However, most if not all climate change studies completely omit urban temperatures from their measurements due to that phenomenon, and to guarantee that it doesn’t affect the accuracy of their predictions.

What is the Urban Heat Island theory, and why is it relevant? This video explains it all:

We know for a fact that you will find increased temperatures within cities. The larger the cities, the larger probability for heat increase. Many scientists are actually worried about how people will be able to live in cities like New York, Tokyo, and Shanghai if we continue to see a significant temperature increase worldwide.

9. Warmer weather is generally better

Perhaps the most uneducated myth of all of them, this myth is based on a very short-sighted view of the world. Sure, it would be nice to have warmer winters and longer summer in European countries, but it doesn’t stop there, and there are other species in the world than humans.

Additionally, climate change means more extreme weather generally – meaning there will be extreme winters as well as extreme heat waves, some of which we’ve already witnessed.

10. CO2 is actually a green gas, and it’s needed by plants for their survival.

Okay, sure. Nothing factually wrong with that statement. The distinction needed here is between naturally occurring CO2 and human produced CO2, which is, well, a lot. Studies show that the level of CO2 in the air now is the highest in over 80 thousand years. With the rate of deforestation increasing annually, it doesn’t make any sense to attribute this to more plant life.

Also see misconception 2 to learn more about the connection between carbon dioxide and climate change.

11. Animals and plants are adapting

People who vaguely know about evolution may present this argument a lot. Of course, we can’t disprove that species adapt and change over time. But it’s not true for all species, and the amount of time taken makes a huge difference.

Several species have already begun adapting, but others are well on their way to extinction because their evolutionary cycle can’t keep up with the rate of change.

We are already seeing species that have died out or are close to die out due to climate change. For example, a 500-year-old Baobab tree in Africa suddenly died (and there are no other explanation to it than a changing climate). And scientists agree that climate change was the reason the infamous Bramble Clay melomys suddenly disappeared from Mother Earth.

These are not the first nor the last species that will die out due to a warmer planet. However, I am sure that we will not see severe action before humans are in severe danger…and by then it might be already too late.

Why is there so much fake news about climate change?

Needless to say, all these myths and misconceptions come from disinformation. 99.999% of all people have never been directly involved in scientific research on climate change, global warming, and other environmental issues. That is why we need to trust external sources to get educated.

All that matters is where you get your information from.

There are people in this world that have a strong interest in not getting the correct information out to the people. For example, fast food chains and meat production companies spend billions of dollars to hide the truth. They simply want to create what they refer to as “doubt”: “We simply do not 100% know if it’s harmful to the environment to eat meat. Unless we’re absolutely certain about it, it would be insane to take any measures which restrict our business.”

As we have these power companies spending money towards giving out misinformation, some people will believe that propaganda.

Kip Andersen is a filmmaker that have made two very famous documentaries: “Conspiracy” and “What The Health”. Both are good and entertaining. In “What The Health”, he reveals how huge health organizations are taking “sponsorship money” from the meat industry.

In exchange, they are not willing to discuss the correlation between a healthy diet and development of for instance diabetes or heart diseases. In other words: even the most trusted, famous, “green and healthy” organizations are working together with the industry to keep you uneducated.

Also interesting: 217 arguments of climate change skeptics

To sum up

Despite overwhelming evidence, we still see conspiracy theories and misconceptions being shared by various people to fit their political or economical agenda.

This is why it’s important for each of us to stay educated. We should keep up with the latest studies and reports, while thoroughly investigating any opposition points. At the same time, we should constantly be trying to contribute to positive change, whether it’s by changing our daily habits or by spreading awareness.

5 thoughts on “11 Myths & Misconceptions About Climate Change (Debunked)”

  1. Avatar

    Climate myth number 1: climate change exists.

    We spend thousands of milions of dollars on something that doesn’t exist. Imagine that some people actually believe that climate change is real LOOL

  2. Avatar

    There are a lot of misconceptions because people are ignorant. people trust scientists when it comes to EVERYTHING BUT climate change.

    If a famous scientist is saying: “You know what? There will be a meteor hitting the planet tomorrow!” people would believe him/her. But once they say: “we need to drive less car and eat less meat if we want to still live on this planet in 200 years”, people refuse to believe it. Why?

  3. Avatar

    Wow, thanks a lot! But I have to comment on number #9, that you mention that “warmer weather can sometimes be better”. Not many people believe that, espeically not where I am from (athen, Greece).

    Here its NEVER going to be someone that says something like “ohhhh I wish it was hot today”. Went on your “about” page and found out that you were born and living in Norway, so that might actually give some meaning 😀 hehe,
    but thanks, ill share this article on Facebook

  4. Avatar

    Getting a Republican to believe in climate change is like getting the Pope to become pro-abortion. In other words: it is impossible.

    For some weird reasons, I have been in a lot of “climate change discussions” with colleagues. My work is building houses, which means that I have a lot of colleagues that do not have so high education. And frankly, most of them get their information from Fox News. That doesn’t help either.

    What I feel is that they have made up their mind. And if you confuse them with facts, they just strongly try to climb to the hope that what they said first was true. After all, admitting failure is not something that humans very often do. And if someone told you for ages that global warming is a myth, you will probably believe that until you can see for yourself that it`s true. Sad, but true.

    1. Avatar

      Hello, thanks for your comment.

      Some people are impossible to educate. The ones that strongly believe in something that does not exist (conspiracy theory people) will never agree with facts. We are living in a world where feelings come first, and facts very often are the second thing people care about.

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