Did you catch Monday’s Diane Rehm Show on NPR? If not, check out the important conversation she hosted between journalist Juliet Eilperin, climate scientist Mike MacCracken and physicist Richard Muller.
Dr. Muller, a former climate skeptic, recently made headlines when he said the evidence is in and “global warming is real.” This is an important turn of events: Even skeptics like Dr. Muller are joining the 97% of top climate scientists who are convinced humans are changing the climate. The evidence is so definitive that there’s no longer any room for denial.
But unfortunately, Dr. Muller is still repeating a number of widely debunked myths about climate change. Here are just three that came up during the radio show:
“The temperature stations, these official stations used to record the temperature, had terrible quality on average.” It’s true that not every temperature station in the world is located in the best place. But when you average the results from thermometers around the globe, the overall trend is clear. Besides, there’s plenty of other evidence Earth is warming. Glaciers are melting, the humidity of the air is increasing, and plants and animals are moving north to cooler areas.
“Is the Arctic melting due to global warming? You know, the evidence for that is very, very flimsy. I’m not even sure it’s true. There are other things that affect the Arctic.” The Arctic is warming about four times faster than the global average, and as you might expect, sea ice is rapidly dwindling as a result. The vast majority of the ice loss is due to carbon pollution from fossil fuels.
“If we want to do something, it has to be something that China can afford to follow, that it will follow, that will make sense. Anything we do in the U.S., the U.S.’s contribution in the future is not going to be that big.” For decades, the U.S. was the biggest source of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. In 2007, that changed, and China overtook us. But you know what? The U.S. is still #2 by a wide margin. We still have a major role to play in reducing the pollution that’s warming our planet.
As Dr. MacCracken said in the interview: “Overwhelmingly, the evidence … indicates that it’s human activities that are causing the problem, and that’s what we have to deal with.” That’s true in the big picture (global warming is real, and humans are causing it), and in the details (sea ice is declining, temperatures are rising, and every nation has a part to play).
And that’s true whether or not one scientist is just starting to realize his peers are on to something.