MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Understanding The Global Warming Myths

The first global warming myth many people hold is that the science of global warming is too uncertain to act on. Nothing could be further from the truth, as scientists are in agreement over the basic facts of global warming, including the fact that global warming is occurring and that human activities, like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, intensify global warming effects on our planet .

The US National Academy of Sciences and 10 other National Academies of Science state that there is clear evidence that global warming is occurring and that nations should take prompt action in the form of cost-effective steps in order to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Another commonly-held myth is that addressing global warming will hurt the American industry and American workers. The fact is that a well-designed trading program would harness American ingenuity to decrease heat-trapping pollution cost- effectively and would also give rise to a new carbon economy.

Many companies that have already reduced their heat-trapping emissions have learned that they can save money by being more environmentally friendly.

The cost of a comprehensive national greenhouse gas reduction program will depend on the precise emissions targets, the timing for the reductions, and the means of implementing it. An independent MIT study has determined that a modest cap-and-trade system would cost less than $ 20 per household and would not result in anyone losing his / her employment.

Experience has shown that properly designed emissions trading programs can reduce compliance costs significantly compared to other regulatory approaches; one previous example was the US acid rain program that helped reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by more than 30% from 1990 levels and cost the industry a fraction of what the government estimated.

In addition, a mandatory cap on emissions can lead to technological innovation that can create jobs and wealth. Conversely, if we do nothing until the damage is more extensive, that delay will likely disrupt and severely damage our economy, so it would be wiser and more cost- effective to act now.

A third widely-held global warming myth is the thinking that because water vapor is the most important, abundant greenhouse gas, efforts should have taken to control it instead of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The fact is, however, that even though water vapor does trap more heat than CO2, global warming nations must focus on controlling CO2 because they can directly affect how much CO2 is in our atmosphere by cutting back and / or eliminating such activities like burning coal , natural gas, and oil, as well as cutting down trees.

The level of water vapor can not be directly controlled by people because they are determined by temperatures – the warmer the atmosphere, the more water vapor it can hold. Therefore, the more CO2 present in the atmosphere, the warmer the air becomes, which leads to more water vapor in the air. As a result, the key to controlling and reducing water vapor is to control the levels of CO2 people put into the air.

A fourth broadly-held belief is that global warming and extra CO2 will be beneficial as they'll reduce cold-related deaths and stimulate crop growth.

The fact is that any positive benefits from extra CO2 in the atmosphere will be far outweighed by damage and disruption.

Even if only the middle range of scientific projections are reached in the future, the effects would have catastrophic effects on many sectors of the economy. Rising seas would inundate coastal communities, contaminate water supplies with salt, and increase the risk of flooding by storm surge. Extreme weather events, like heat waves, droughts, and floods are expected to increase in frequency and severity, which would lead to more loss of life, agriculture, and property.

While higher levels of CO2 can act as a plant fertilizer, most scientists think that this benefit has been overstated in recent years as plants seem to acclimate to the higher levels of CO2 after a few years, thereby nullifying the benefits. In addition, higher levels of CO2 can allow undesirable, weedy species to grow more rapidly, something that is not wanted.

As you can see, believing global warming myths can lead people to actions that will cause more harm to our economies and our planet in the future. That is why it is so important to learn the facts about global warming so that proper actions can be taken in the future to lessen or reverse the effects global warming will have on our economies, societies, and way of life.

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