We have all been there.
Maybe you are hanging out with friends at a party. Or catching up with relatives at a family function. The conversation is mostly flowing until it gets stuck on the weather, and before you know it, the climate deniers have hijacked it.
“Why is it so cold, if the climate is really changing?”
“What’s wrong with a few degrees?”
“If global warming is real, why is there ice in my drink?”
“I don’t deny climate change, I just think its a Chinese hoax!”
Okay, US President Donald Trump actually said that last bit, but you get the drift.
Beyond a point, the arguments don’t just get ridiculous, they become preposterous. How do you engage with this madness?
Well, you counter the denial with facts and some good old common sense. We took some time to prepare a ready reckoner for you in order to do just that :
And nobody is denying that! But saying that humans are not the cause of the climate crisis we are facing today is like saying that humans can’t burn forests because forest fires have been started by lightning in the past.
Basic science tells us that climate change always happens for a reason. While previous changes had to do with the sun burning brighter, or increase in volcanic activity, currently, sadly, that reason happens to be us. And that’s not just a claim, but a consensus backed by science. Man-made carbon dioxide pollution is the leading driver of global warming, and all science points to this.
Wrong. The vast majority of climate scientists – or about ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and that it’s happening because of us. Most leading organisations around the world have also endorsed this position, as well as the fact that greenhouses emissions emitted by human activities are the primary drivers of this change.
Even as Antarctic land ice disintegrates down south and Arctic sea ice melts up north, deniers are using the building ice in Antarctica to say that climate change is not happening.
The deniers, however, fail to pinpoint an important aspect: the difference between land and sea ice. While sea ice is frozen, floating seawater, land ice ( also called glaciers or ice sheets) is ice that gets accumulated on land over a period of time.
The sheet of land ice that covers most of Antarctica has been melting at an alarming rate. When land ice melts, it flows like water into the ocean and contributes to the rising sea level, threatening the lives of millions of people living on islands and coasts.
At the North Pole, the Arctic has been warming at twice the global average rate -leading sea ice to melt. But even at the Arctic, the level of sea ice can vary significantly within a single year as the ice melts in the warmer summer months 9 and freezes during the colder winter months. When you hear climate change deniers saying that sea ice is growing, they’re usually comparing minimum levels of ice in the summer (when it’s warmest) of one year to maximum levels in the winter (when it’s coldest) of another. Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.
A two-degree rise in temperature will disrupt our lives and challenge our ability to cope.
What’s the difference between zero and one degree you ask? Well, it’s the difference between water and ice. The world has already warmed about 0.8-degree celsius since 1880. Now that may not sound like much, but as it turns out, we are already experiencing the effects of living in a warmer world. Floods, droughts and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. Entire species are dying out. And that’s with a 0.8-degree rise! Now consider what can happen if the temperature rises by 2 degrees? The effect is going to be catastrophic!
First up, take a deep breath. Your respiration has got nothing to do with climate change!
This is how it really works: As you may have learnt in school, humans take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. This carbon, however, doesn’t come out of a vacuum – it comes out of the carbon-based food we eat. Plants use this carbon dioxide to make their own food via photosynthesis, which means that the whole process is a closed cycle of sorts: the carbon taken in by plants becomes food for us, and then we breathe it out until the plants consume it again.
However, when we choose to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, we do something different. We release carbon that didn’t exist in the loop, to begin with, having been stored underground for millions and millions of years. This carbon, once it has been released, can be in the atmosphere for hundreds of years to come, disturbing the balance that exists!