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MYTH #23: Other planets are warming


It's not just the Earth that's warming — what about Mars?


We don't know if other planets are warming. We know the Earth is — and it's our own fault.

It’s true that the sun affects the climates of the planets in our solar system — including our planet. If the sun’s energy significantly increased, we would expect most or all of the planets to warm up. But there’s no good evidence of consistent warming on planets other than Earth. And the variation that’s occurred in the sun’s energy over the course of the 20th century just isn’t significant enough to account for the large-scale climate change we’re seeing here. Multiple lines of evidence confirm that humans, not the sun, are the primary cause of the climate change that's happening here on Earth.

More info from The Climate Reality Project

Four of your colleagues were late this morning. Is it safe to say they were all late for the exact same reason? Of course not. Maybe one person’s car wouldn’t start, another missed the bus, one forgot her lunch and had to turn back, and another slept right through his alarm.

The same goes for the argument that because several planets are warming, they all must be warming for the same reason — like an increase in energy output from the sun. In reality, there are many different reasons why planets (or parts of them) could be warming.

Take Mars, for example. The current global temperature of Mars is largely affected by hemispheric dust storms. Such dust storms are what scientists believe account for warming on Mars over the last few decades.

On Jupiter, “dynamic storm systems”, which appear as giant “spots” on Jupiter’s surface, affect the mixing of heat in its atmosphere and may be causing regional warming. Berkeley scientists suspect that changes in these storm systems increase temperatures near the planet’s equator while decreasing temperatures at the poles.

And then there’s the fact that not every planet orbits the sun in the same way. The “dwarf planet” Pluto has a highly inclined and elliptical (long and skinny) orbit, meaning it experiences significant warming when it moves toward the sun and significant cooling when it moves away from the sun.

But let’s come back down to Earth. What’s driving the recent warming we’re seeing here? It’s not dust storms, or giant vortices, or changes in our orbit. It’s not the sun either. We know the burning of fossil fuels is what’s driving climate change on Earth.