It gets a little scary when schools teach ideology in the name of science, but the actions of the new administration indicate this may be an even more serious problem in coming days. When the federal government suppresses research and data, that might encourage more of this sort of pseudo-science thinking.

The following document was found on a school district website last year! Many of the so-called Misconceptions are accurate, while most of the so-called Facts are distortions based upon political ideology.

Insight into Climate Change

MISCONCEPTION: Global temperatures are rising at a fast, never before seen rate.

FACT: Observations made over the last three decades have not shown any big change in the long term rate of increase in global temperatures. Average readings show a mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8°C over the last 100 years.

MISCONCEPTION: Scientists have proven that the Earth had a small temperature decrease for 1000 years, and then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT: The temperature has gone up and down throughout Earth’s history. For instance, during the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to 1200 AD, Earth’s temperature increased about 0.5°C. This period was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age (1550 to 1850 AD) where temperatures dropped 0.8°C. Since the end of the 17th Century the “average global temperature” has been rising at a slow steady rate although from 1940 – 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

MISCONCEPTION: Human produced carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus warming the earth.

FACT: Carbon dioxide levels have changed for lots of reasons throughout Earth’s history. But, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. Scientists looked back over millions of years to see how much CO2 was in Earth’s atmosphere by drilling ice cores in Antarctica. Scientists found that as the Earth heats up, it allows more CO2 in the atmosphere. As it cools down, the CO2 leaves the atmosphere and dissolves back into the ocean. The CO2 does not cause the temperature to increase or decrease.

MISCONCEPTION: CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.

FACT: Greenhouse gases make up about 3% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen and Oxygen make up the other 97%. Most of the greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor in the form of clouds (about 75%), with the remainder being mainly gases like CO2 (about 20%). At current concentrations, a 3% change of water vapor in the atmosphere would have the same effect as a 100% change in CO2.

MISCONCEPTION: CO2 is a pollutant.

FACT: This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is. CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow stronger.

MISCONCEPTION: Melting glaciers are proof of global warming.

FACT: Glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It’s normal. Besides, glacier’s health is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.

MISCONCEPTION: The earth’s poles are warming; polar ice caps are breaking up and melting and the sea level rising.

FACT: The earth is variable. The western Arctic may be getting somewhat warmer, due to events in the Pacific Ocean, but the Eastern Arctic and Greenland are getting colder. A small peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice thicknesses are increasing both on Greenland and in Antarctica.

Directions: Using the information on the front, answer the following questions.

  • According to the misconceptions, has the Earth’s global temperature ever decreased? Why or why not?

  • Most of Earth’s atmosphere is made up of what two gases?

  • What is the most common greenhouse gas on earth?

  • How is it possible for CO2 to be a pollutant to humans but not for plants?

  • After reading the misconceptions, do you believe global warming is really happening? Why or why not?

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