This is the new Reality Drop. No games, just truths.

Man-made climate change is here.

Climate change is a reality we can no longer ignore. We see the impacts in our everyday lives, from extreme superstorms, to heat waves, to massive wildfires and droughts. But climate denial, bankrolled by Dirty Energy companies and justified by pseudoscience, persists.

Reality Drop, inspired by Skeptical Science, is a library of science-based rebuttals to climate change deniers.

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Showing 23 myths:

  • #11: Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant

    Deniers say: Carbon dioxide helps plants grow — it is not something that we should regulate as a toxic pollutant.
    Science says: We don't need the Supreme Court to tell us carbon dioxide is a pollutant -- we just have to look at our changing world.
    Carbon dioxide, which we send into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels, is a pollutant because it’s driving dangerous climate change. This is a scientific reality that has been recognized by leading scientists, and a legal reality recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s true that carbon dioxide exists naturally: We breathe it out, plants need it to survive, and it makes up an important part of our atmosphere. Without carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the Earth would be an icy ball. But “natural and important” doesn’t mean “more is better." Think of trace nutrients in our foods like copper and magnesium: We need them in tiny amounts to survive, but in excess, copper and magnesium can make us very sick. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we’ve increased the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40%. This excess carbon dioxide is warming up our planet and is having negative impacts on plants, animals, our economy and our health.
  • #51: Climate sensitivity is low

    Deniers say: The climate isn't that sensitive to human activities, and at most we're looking at a small increase in global temperatures.
    Science says: Even a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will disrupt our lives and challenge our ability to cope.
    One thing is certain about the Earth’s climate: It’s warming — and warming fast — because of carbon pollution from human activities. What’s less certain is how much the planet will warm by the end of the century. For one thing, it’s hard to say just how much carbon pollution humans will pump into the atmosphere 50 or 100 years from now. The other thing that’s a little unclear is “climate sensitivity," or how much the Earth will warm in response to carbon pollution in our atmosphere. The best estimates suggest doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase the world’s temperature by 3.6-8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 2-4.5 degrees Celsius). Even a 2-degree Celsius rise is expected to disrupt our lives and challenge our ability to adapt. We had better hope that the climate sensitivity is low — but we shouldn’t bank on it.
  • #52: More clouds will cool the Earth

    Deniers say: Clouds block the sun, so more clouds should make us cooler — not warmer.
    Science says: Reality check: The clouds aren't going to save us from climate change.
    The vast majority of climate scientists are certain the world will continue to warm as we add carbon pollution to the atmosphere. What’s less certain is the exact AMOUNT of warming. Why? It all comes down to feedbacks — processes that amplify or reduce man made warming. Some feedbacks are well understood. Take Arctic sea ice, for example. As the climate warms and sea ice melts, less sunlight is reflected back to space, and more warming happens. But the net effect of cloud feedbacks is less well known. Some kinds of clouds warm the climate; others cool the climate. What will the overall result be? There’s growing evidence that at worst, the clouds will have a net warming effect. At best, they’ll have a slight cooling effect. But there’s no reliable evidence that clouds will somehow cool the climate enough to counteract man made warming.
  • #53: The IPCC is alarmist

    Deniers say: The IPCC uses flimsy evidence to try to scare us about global warming.
    Science says: If anything, the IPCC has underestimated the impacts of climate change.
    Deniers love to hate the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or the “IPCC”), an international scientific body that reviews and assesses the best available climate research produced worldwide. Hundreds of independent scientists review the peer-reviewed research on climate change and summarize it in a few reports. Then hundreds more experts review their work. And then, the world’s governments go through the reports line by line. What does this mean? It means the end product is a consensus document —or in other words, it generally underestimates what will happen to the Earth’s climate.

    Further, fossil fuel emissions are currently close to the "worst-case" IPCC projections. Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than the IPCC predicted. Indeed, in many cases, IPCC projections have underestimated the speed and intensity of observed climate change.
  • #54: Models are unreliable

    Deniers say: Climate models have nothing to do with reality — so how can we use them to predict the future?
    Science says: The models do a good job of simulating past climate change, and they are a reliable guide to the future.
    We know our climate is warming — and models show it will continue to warm into the future. But how can we trust something that is “just a model”? Climate models are kind of like cars. The rules of physics form the foundation of climate models, just like wheels are part of a car body. And real-life data make models run, much like gas in a car’s tank. Like cars, climate models are thoroughly tested before they’re considered reliable. One way to test a model is to ask what happened in past decades. If the model represents what actually occurred, we can expect the model will be reasonably reliable in projecting future change. Thanks to this diligence, our climate models have a great track record. Moreover, they’ve tended to be conservative in their projections, meaning that temperatures and sea levels are increasing more quickly than what models said would occur.
  • #56: Scientists can’t even predict weather

    Deniers say: Weather forecasts are barely reliable a week out, so how can climate models tell us what will happen 100 years from today?
    Science says: We can't predict what the weather will be like on a given day in the year 2100 — but we are very confident the world will be a lot warmer.
    Does a motorcycle accident down the street mean you can’t operate your electric car safely? No. In much the same way, “incorrect” weather forecasts don’t tell us much about the reliability of climate projections. Weather forecasters and climate scientists don’t look at the future the same way. A weather forecaster in New Jersey, for example, is interested in the chance of rain in Hoboken three days from now. On the other hand, a climate scientist is interested in whether the state of New Jersey will be wetter or drier on average 40 or 50 years from now. Much like a motorcycle and an electric car, weather and climate models include similar “parts," but they start with different kinds of data and are operated in different ways. Climate scientists can’t tell you with certainty how much the world will warm in 100 years. But they can say with certainty that the world will continue to warm. And the more carbon pollution we put in the atmosphere, the worse things will get.
  • #61: Ice melt isn’t warming the Arctic

    Deniers say: The Earth’s climate has natural feedbacks that keep the planet cool. Otherwise, we’d be seeing runaway warming in the Arctic.
    Science says: The Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
    In recent decades, the Arctic has been warming at twice the global average rate. Recent research finds that melting sea ice plays a central role in this accelerated warming. How does this work? Sea ice acts like a bright white shield that reflects a portion of the sun’s rays back into space. Deep blue ocean water, however, is less effective in reflecting sunlight. It absorbs a lot more of the sun’s energy, which results in warming. Warming, of course, results in less ice, which in turn results in more warming. It’s a troubling feedback loop.
  • #65: Greenland has barely lost ice

    Deniers say: The Greenland ice sheet is melting at a glacial rate.
    Science says: Even when Greenland loses a small fraction of its ice, sea level goes up in a big way.
    Greenland’s massive ice sheet contains enough ice to raise global sea level by about 20 feet. The total collapse of the Greenland ice sheet isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but ice loss from Greenland is accelerating. Research has shown that even a relatively small loss of ice from Greenland will result in significant sea level rise. And the more the ice sheet melts — we’re talking hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year — the more that rising seas endanger low-lying coastal communities around the world.
  • #66: The Greenland ice sheet won't collapse

    Deniers say: Greenland’s massive ice sheet has survived worse periods of warming in the past, and there's no reason to expect catastrophe.
    Science says: Even when Greenland loses a small fraction of its ice, sea level goes up in a big way.
    As our planet warms, ice melts in polar regions like Greenland. How long it will take for all of Greenland’s ice to disappear is hard to predict. A partial collapse is much more likely in this century. But that doesn’t mean the melting of Greenland’s massive ice sheet isn’t a huge problem. Research has shown that even a relatively small loss of ice from Greenland will result in significant sea level rise. And the more the ice sheet melts — we’re talking hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year — the more that rising seas endanger low-lying coastal communities around the world.
  • #68: The IPCC was wrong about Himalayan glaciers

    Deniers say: The IPCC falsely claimed the glaciers in the Himalayas could be gone by 2035.
    Science says: Glaciers all over the world are losing ice — even in the Himalayas.
    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international scientific body that reviews and assesses the most recent peer-reviewed climate change research produced worldwide. In its 2007 report, the IPCC warned that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 or sooner. The IPCC has since acknowledged that this statement came from a questionable source. And recent research shows the ice cover in the Himalayas may be shrinking more slowly than previously thought.

    Here's the key, however: The Himalayas ARE losing ice. And this dispute over the Himalayas in no way changes the reality of what’s happening on a global scale. Glaciers all over the world are losing about 150 billion tons of ice a year, providing a natural indicator that the world is warming.
  • #70: It’s only a few degrees

    Deniers say: An extra 2 degrees of warming? How bad could that be?
    Science says: Even a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will disrupt our lives and challenge our ability to cope.
    The world has warmed about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 (that's 0.8 degrees Celsius). That may not sound like much, but we’re already starting to see what a warmer world has in store for us. Intense rainstorms, severe droughts and heat waves are becoming more frequent. Rising seas are damaging homes near the water. Some populations of animals are starting to die out. And that’s just 1.5 degrees! Now consider what could happen if we do nothing to limit the pollution that’s causing global warming. The best available estimates say the Earth will warm another 3 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 (roughly 2 to 4 degrees Celsius). In other words, the more we pollute, the worse things will get.
  • #71: It's not bad

    Deniers say: So what if there's a little climate change? What's wrong with a couple extra days at the beach?
    Science says: More extreme weather, rising seas, and escalating risks to our health. That's what we can expect as climate change gets worse.
    Climate change isn’t just bad for polar bears. It’s bad for humans — for a lot of reasons. First, climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts, and intense storms. Rising seas are already damaging homes and businesses near the water. But it doesn’t stop there. When it’s hot, the quality of the air we breathe gets worse, and that's a threat to our health. Ocean acidification, the result of oceans absorbing excess carbon pollution from the air, could destabilize fisheries and much of the oceanic food chain. It's widely believed that climate change will encourage the expansion of disease-bearing pests into new areas, like the ticks that carry Lyme disease. Wherever we live, climate change poses risks to both our economy and our way of life — and the time to start solving this problem is now.
  • #72: It’s not urgent

    Deniers say: From world hunger to disease, the world has so many other problems that are more urgent than climate change.
    Science says: If you want your kids to grow up with the same opportunities you had, the time for solving climate change is now.
    Climate change is an urgent threat to our economy, our health, and even our way of life. 

Carbon pollution stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Even if we stopped emitting carbon pollution today, our world would continue to warm for a long time. Plus, man-made carbon pollution is setting “feedback loops” into motion that make the world warm even faster. For example, global warming is thawing frozen ground called “permafrost,” which then releases more heat-trapping gases into the air. We are already experiencing the impacts of warming — from deadly heat waves to a greater risk of extreme storms and drought. The longer we wait to address this problem, the more difficult and expensive it will get.
  • #73: IPCC was wrong about the Amazon

    Deniers say: The IPCC falsely claimed the Amazon is at risk of drought.
    Science says: Climate change puts the Amazon at risk of severe drought. 
The IPCC was correct.
    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was actually right about Amazon rainforests. But here’s why you might be confused. An article in a British newspaper reported that the IPCC published false information about the Amazon rainforests in 2007. The information in question was a statement that 40% of the Amazon was susceptible to the effects of drought. This statement came from a report from the World Wildlife Fund instead of the original peer-reviewed studies. Neither the statement nor the number was wrong; the fault lies in the fact that the IPCC cited a "middleman” rather than the original, authoritative academic source. Since 2007, more studies have reinforced our knowledge of the Amazon’s susceptibility to drought. Oh, and the British newspaper retracted its original story.
  • #74: Carbon dioxide is plant food

    Deniers say: CO2 helps agriculture flourish. It is the gas of life.
    Science says: Plants need water, but is a flood a good way to water your crops? Too much carbon dioxide is bad news.
    To grow, plants need three main things: sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. But that doesn’t mean we can jump to the conclusion that more carbon dioxide will be good for plants. More isn’t always better. A flood is not a good way to supply water to a forest. While experiments have shown that some plants respond well to higher carbon dioxide levels, others have shown that abnormally high levels of carbon dioxide can cause damage. Keep in mind that as carbon dioxide increases, temperatures also increase, rainfall patterns change, and some kinds of extreme weather events become more common and severe. This certainly spells bad news for plants. Don’t believe me? Ask the peanut farmers in drought-ridden Texas. Find out about the wine grapes in Australia and California, or the African cacao trees that are used to make chocolate. Climate change has not been kind to these plants so far.
  • #75: Animals and plants can adapt

    Deniers say: Plants and animals have adapted to adverse conditions in the past. They will adjust to climate change.
    Science says: For many species, including humans, the climate may be changing faster than we can keep up.
    Climate change poses serious dangers for plant and animal life on Earth. Adaptation to changes in the environment can take a long time. That’s one big reason the rate of manmade climate change is so worrisome. For many species, our climate may be changing faster than they can keep up. And keep in mind that climate change isn’t the only way humans are altering the natural environment. Deforestation, urban sprawl and the use of toxic chemicals are environmental stress points making it ever more difficult for plants and animals to adapt. In short: At the rate we’re going, thousands of species could be in real danger.
  • #76: There are more polar bears than before

    Deniers say: Despite the global warming you hear about, polar bears are making a comeback.
    Science says: Most polar bear communities are already declining. Melting ice is the greatest threat to their future.
    Polar bears are found in 19 subpopulations around the Arctic. Of the 19 recognized polar bear subpopulations, scientists only have enough data to make accurate determinations about 12. Of those 12, eight are in decline, three are stable, and only one is increasing. Animal populations decline for all sorts of reasons, and in the case of polar bears, being hunted by people is certainly one cause for concern. What’s also clear, however, is that the loss of sea ice is partly to blame for declines in at least four polar bear subpopulations. Sea ice is absolutely critical to the health of polar bears. They use it as a platform for hunting their prey, giving birth to their young, and traveling from one place to the next. Because of climate change, that platform of sea ice is melting, fast. And as climate change accelerates, polar bear habitat will be put in ever increasing danger.
  • #77: Corals can handle bleaching

    Deniers say: Corals have weathered worse, and they will adapt to the impacts of climate change.
    Science says: Climate change could make coral reefs lose their color and die.
    The world’s oceans are getting warmer as we pump more and more carbon pollution into the atmosphere. Rising ocean temperatures are putting many of our coral reefs in severe danger, causing them to lose their color and die. That's called “bleaching.” Some species of corals are more tolerant than others to bleaching, but it’s a serious threat to most species. In 1998 alone, bleaching killed 16% of all coral on the planet! Corals would have an easier time dealing with mild bleaching events if they weren’t so threatened by other human activities, like overfishing. But experts agree the only way to keep corals and the species that depend on them healthy is to prevent bleaching in the first place. And that means reducing the carbon pollution that’s warming the oceans.
  • #78: Ocean acidification isn’t bad

    Deniers say: The oceans cover most of the planet. How can a little CO2 hurt them?
    Science says: Carbon pollution makes the oceans more acidic. That's bad for coral reefs, fish, and humans.
    When humans send carbon pollution into the atmosphere, a lot of it stays there and warms the planet. But more than 25% of the carbon gets absorbed by our oceans. The more carbon pollution our oceans absorb, the more acidic they get. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution the ocean has become about 30% more acidic ⎯ with potentially serious consequences for marine life. Corals and shellfish have a harder time forming the hard shells they need to survive, and this threatens the habitats of fish and other sea creatures. This has serious implications for people, too, because we rely to a great extent on the bounty of the oceans to survive.
  • #79: Extreme weather isn't caused by global warming

    Deniers say: There's nothing new about extreme weather — ever heard of the Dust Bowl?
    Science says: Climate change "loads the dice" and makes extreme weather more likely to happen.
    When we pollute the atmosphere with dirty energy like oil, coal, and gas, we end up with dirty weather. Around the world, devastating extreme weather events are becoming more common and severe. Take the United States, which during 2012 alone experienced the worst drought in decades, two of the most destructive wildfires in its history, and the unprecedented devastation from Superstorm Sandy. Of course, bad weather has always been with us, but climate change greatly increases our risk of extreme weather like heavy storms, droughts, and heat waves. We are playing games with our weather system with loaded dice. And the odds are not in our favor.
  • #80: Hurricanes aren't linked to global warming

    Deniers say: Hurricanes are natural weather events and they have nothing to do with climate change.
    Science says: Get ready for more Category 5s. Even if hurricanes don't happen more often, they are likely to get more intense.
    The science is settled when it comes to the cause of global climate change: It’s definitely happening and humans are responsible. But when it comes to the effect of climate change on tropical storms and hurricanes, the question isn’t fully settled yet. So what does the research show so far? It may well be that the FREQUENCY of tropical storms won't change much. But there is increasing evidence that storms will get MORE INTENSE as the climate warms — with higher wind speeds and more rainfall. There's a growing body of evidence that suggests hurricane intensity and climate change are linked. Stay tuned for more.
  • #82: Future sea level rise is exaggerated

    Deniers say: Sea levels are barely rising. Computer models showing catastrophic sea level rise just aren’t based in reality.
    Science says: Sea levels could rise more than a meter by the end of the century.
    Globally, sea levels are rising due to the manmade pollution that's warming our climate. But how much will they rise in the future? Good question. Scientists know that the seas will continue to rise as the world warms, ocean water expands and glaciers and ice sheets melt. What they don’t know — yet — is how much the massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will melt by the end of the century. Because of that uncertainty, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the international body that reviews and assesses the most recent peer-reviewed climate research from around the world — assumed in 2007 that the rate of ice loss from the poles wouldn’t change much over the next century. The emerging reality, however, is that the rate of melting is speeding up. This means the IPCC’s most recent projection of 18 to 59 centimeters by 2100 is in fact an underestimate, not an exaggeration. The latest scientific studies suggest that global sea levels could rise more than 1 meter by 2100.
  • #83: Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise

    Deniers say: Many small islands are now higher above sea level than before.
    Science says: The more sea levels rise, the more difficult it gets for low-lying islands to keep their heads above water.
    Globally, sea levels are rising as the world warms. But look at a finer scale, and you’ll see that sea level rise varies a lot from place to place. Areas like coastal Louisiana are sinking for both natural and manmade reasons, so they’re experiencing higher-than-average rates of sea level rise. In a few places, like Kodiak Island, Alaska, the land is rising — meaning that sea level is actually falling slightly. Coral reef islands (mostly found in the South Pacific) show a similarly complicated pattern. Some of these low-lying islands have survived the changes in sea level rise so far. But others have disappeared entirely. What’s clear is that as the rate of sea level rise increases, it will be more and more difficult for coral reef islands — and the people who live on them — to keep their heads above water.