How to Talk to Climate Change Skeptics

The reasons for raising doubts about the human causes of global warming, explains Skeptical Science's John Cook, are often political rather than scientific. Cook hears from climate change skeptics that '"it's all a liberal plot to spread socialism and destroy capitalism.' ... However, what is causing global warming is a purely scientific question." Cook tries to remove the politics from the debate by concentrating on the science.

Below is Cook's list of the most-used arguments of climate change skeptics, compared to what the science actually says.

Myth 1:
"It's the sun."
Fact: In the last 35 years of global warming, the energy from the sun has been decreasing while the earth’s temperature has been increasing.

Myth 2:
"The climate's changed before."
Fact: The climate reacts to whatever forces it to change. Humans are now the dominant force causing change.

Myth 3:
“There is no scientific consensus on climate change."
Fact: More than 95 percent of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to climate studies accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities.

Myth 4:
"Global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning."
Fact: Empirical measurements of the Earth’s heat content show the planet is still accumulating heat and global warming is still happening.

Myth 5:
"Climate models are unreliable."
Fact: While there are uncertainties with climate models, they successfully reproduce the past and have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations.

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