Here is a selection of some of our most popular FAQs on climate change, concerning carbon emissions, the greenhouse effect, deforestation, polar ice melt, sea level rise and other issues relating to our climate crisis, from microplastics pollution to the loss of some of our most beautiful animals. For more questions and answers, see: 50 Global Warming FAQs.
- General FAQs
- Q. What Do We Call Our Climate Crisis – Climate Change or Global Warming?
- Q. How Much Is The Planet Heating Up?
- Q. How Serious Is Our Climate Crisis?
- Q. How Do Today’s Temperatures Compare with Historical Temperatures?
- Q. How Do Scientists Study Climate?
- Q. When Did We Start Measuring Global Temperatures?
- Q. What Is Climate Change Mitigation?
- Q. What Is Climate Change Adaptation?
- Q. What are Climate Feedbacks?
- Q. What is Carbon Capture and Storage?
- Q. How Are Oceans Linked To Climate?
- Q. What is ENSO? How is it linked to global warming?
- Q. What is Biodiversity?
- Q. Where Can I Find Ideas For My Climate Change Essay?
- FAQs About the Causes of Climate Change
- Q. Is The Sun The Cause Of Earth’s Warming?
- Q. So Who Is Causing Climate Change?
- Q. How Do We Know That Humans Cause Climate Change?
- Q. Is Climate Change Caused By Natural Factors?
- Q. What Factors Determine Earth’s Climate?
- Q. Do Cows Contribute to Global Warming?
- Q. Does Deforestation Cause Climate Change?
- FAQs About The Greenhouse Effect
- FAQs About Emissions
- FAQs About the Effects of Climate Change
- Q. How High Will Sea Levels Go?
- Q. Are Recent Hurricanes and Cyclones Linked To Climate Change?
- Q. Are Recent Wildfires In The Arctic, California And Australia Linked To Climate Change?
- Q. What Are “Tipping Points”?
- Q. Are The Ice Sheets In Greenland And Antarctica Melting?
- Q. Are Earth’s Glaciers Melting?
- Q. Is Arctic Sea Ice Melting?
- Q. How Is Permafrost Affected By Climate Change?
- Q. Is Global Warming Heating the Oceans?
- FAQs About Decarbonization
- Q. What Is Decarbonisation?
- Q. Is ‘Clean Coal’ The Answer To Our Energy Problem?
- Q. Will Fracking Resurrect The Fossil Fuel Industry?
- Q. Is Renewable Energy a Realistic Alternative To Fossil Fuels?
- Q. Is Renewable Energy Sustainable Energy?
- Q. Can Hydrogen Power Help Our Climate?
- Q. What Is The Latest News On Electric Cars (EVs)?
- Q. Is Nuclear Power a Possible Replacement for Fossil Fuels?
- Climate Action & Solutions
- Q. Can We Stop Global Warming?
- Q. What Is The Paris Agreement?
- Q. Will Carbon Taxes Solve Our Carbon Emissions Problem?
- Q. What Can I Do As An Ordinary Person To Help Tackle Global Warming?
- Q. Is There Any Personal Action I Can Take That Doesn’t Involve Others?
- Q. Does Mismanaged Plastic Waste Cause Global Warming?
- Q. Does Plastic Pollution Cause Human Health Problems?
- Climate Denial
Q. What Do We Call Our Climate Crisis – Climate Change or Global Warming?
Either is fine, although technically they mean different things. Climate change means just that – any change in the climate (long term weather patterns), either hotter, colder, windier, wetter, you name it. Global warming also means what it says – warming of the world. However, both terms are commonly used to refer to our current climate emergency.
Q. How Much Is The Planet Heating Up?
Since about 1900, Earth’s temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound much but it is. What’s more, according to the IPCC, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the planet will suffer an untold loss of biodiversity in its plants upon which all species, including Homo sapiens, depend for their survival.
Q. How Serious Is Our Climate Crisis?
Nobody knows for sure. The main worry is that Earth’s climate system might be in worse shape than we think. Rather like a boxer who keeps fighting new opponents without realizing that his brain is irreversibly deteriorating.
Due to government inaction, the IPCC’s worst-case global temperature projections are becoming distinctly possible. This predicts warming of up to 4.8 degrees Celsius (8.5 degrees Fahrenheit), by 2100, causing catastrophic damage to certain parts of the biosphere and scorching temperatures across large parts of the globe. It may also trigger runaway ice melt in the polar regions, and a consequent major rise in sea levels. It could also lead to profound social upheaval. For more information, see: Rising Temperatures on Earth: What to Expect.
Q. How Do Today’s Temperatures Compare with Historical Temperatures?
The five hottest years have all occurred since 2014. Nineteen of the 20 hottest years since proper records began have occurred since 2001. The year 2019 was the hottest year since records began. Planet Earth is getting warmer and its rate of warming is accelerating. Two areas of particular concern are the ocean (which absorbs something like 93 percent of all excess solar energy) and the Arctic (where summer heatwaves have become the new norm and even winter temperatures are significantly up).
Q. How Do Scientists Study Climate?
Climatologists use a huge variety of techniques and equipment to study Earth’s climate, ranging from the latest satellites to weather balloons, ocean floats, manned research stations, automatic sensors, and of course human fieldwork. When researching earlier climate patterns, they use proxy records from chemical and biological traces preserved within the geologic record. Fossilized organisms (including phytoplankton and coral) serve as useful climate proxies, as also do tree rings, samples from ocean sediments and ice cores extracted from ice-sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Chemical proxy evidence comes from isotope ratios, biogenic silica and the like. Using this indirect evidence, scientists can identify climate patterns going back hundreds of millions of years into the past.
Q. When Did We Start Measuring Global Temperatures?
The three main methods of monitoring global average air temperatures are surface based thermometers (operational since 1850) 1 radiosondes (weather balloons, operational since the 1950s), and satellites that measure microwave emissions (operational since 1979). These three methods provide the most reliable global surface temperature datasets. See also: When Did Global Warming Start?
Q. What Is Climate Change Mitigation?
The phrase ‘climate change mitigation‘ describes efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. This may involve the decarbonization of fossil fuels, the capture and storage or utilization of CO2 emissions, or a switch to renewable energies. 2
Q. What Is Climate Change Adaptation?
The phrase ‘climate change adaptation‘ refers to efforts made to reduce the impact of global warming. It often goes hand in hand with mitigation efforts. While mitigation tackles the root causes – the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – adaptation seeks to reduce the harmful effects caused by climatic changes. 3
Q. What are Climate Feedbacks?
Once global warming takes effect, it triggers other processes. Some, amplify the warming, others weaken it. These processes – known as climate feedbacks – may be positive or negative.
Positive feedbacks boost or amplify the warming; negative feedbacks weaken it. A good example of a positive feedback are wildfires. High temperatures dry out the forest, creating tinderbox conditions. Lightning ignites a wildfire which burns down a wide expanse of forest, sending a plume of CO2 into the atmosphere. This further boosts the warming, which dries out the forest even more, and so on.
A good example of a negative feedback, is cloud formation. High temperatures warm the air, causing more water to evaporate from Earth’s surface. This vapor then condenses, forming clouds, which reflect sunlight back into space, thus cooling the planet. See: How Do Clouds Affect Climate?
Q. What is Carbon Capture and Storage?
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) – typically produced during an industrial process – before it is released into the atmosphere. It is an important climate change mitigation strategy and one that is heavily relied upon by IPCC climate models, to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the ‘capture’ technology still needs significant development.
Q. How Are Oceans Linked To Climate?
Oceans influence climate change by distributing heat from the equator to the poles and cold air from the poles to the equator. At the same time, they absorb CO2 at the poles and transport it around the world on the ‘global conveyor belt’ – a series of deep-water ocean currents powered by thermohaline circulation. The CO2 is locked up for at least a century, preventing it from feeding the greenhouse effect.
Q. What is ENSO? How is it linked to global warming?
ENSO is a regional weather cycle in the tropical Pacific Ocean. It stands for El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
ENSO has two opposing phases: El Nino (an overall ‘warm’ phase, during which sea surface temperatures are warmer in the eastern Pacific than in the west, causing rainy conditions in South America and droughts in SE Asia/Australia) and La Nina (a ‘cooler’ phase during which seas are warmer in the western Pacific than in the east, causing rainy conditions in SE Asia/Australia and droughts in parts of South America). La Nina is also associated with the strong upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water off the Americas. For the full story, see: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
Neither phase is controlled by climate change, although rising temperatures increase the severity of ENSO’s meteorological effects. In other words, global warming doesn’t make ENSO happen, but when it does, the effects are worse.
Similar regional weather systems include the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the travelling Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), all of which can reinforce both the El Niño and La Niña phases of ENSO.
Q. What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is short for biological diversity. It means simply ‘variety of plants and animals.’ Ecosystems depend upon biodiversity to maintain their health. For example, predator species like lions help to maintain the health of herds of wildebeest and other herbivores. In addition, they regulate the numbers of these herbivores to prevent them from denuding the grasslands upon which all species rely. See also: 10 Reasons Why Plants are Important.
Q. Where Can I Find Ideas For My Climate Change Essay?
If you need some facts and inspiration for a piece of schoolwork on the topic of global warming, check out our Climate Change Essay In 1000 Words.
FAQs About the Causes of Climate Change
Q. Is The Sun The Cause Of Earth’s Warming?
No. Although theoretically the sun is the most important of all climate forcings, the amount of solar energy received by Planet Earth from the sun has shown no increase since the 1950s. Yet during this time, global mean temperature has risen noticeably. In other words, the Sun isn’t the culprit. 4
Q. So Who Is Causing Climate Change?
We are. We are burning massive amounts of fossil fuels that emit the heat-trapping gases mentioned above. If we stopped burning coal, oil and natural gas, the pace of global warming would slow down immediately. However, it wouldn’t actually stop, because a proportion of the CO2 we’ve emitted so far remains active in the atmosphere for centuries. So global warming would continue at least until the end of the century. See also: What’s the Root Cause of Climate Change?
Q. How Do We Know That Humans Cause Climate Change?
Well-documented scientific research, including the use of radioactivity to distinguish industrial from natural emissions, proves that human activity is responsible for the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is causing the rise in global temperature that we call climate change. 5
Q. Is Climate Change Caused By Natural Factors?
No. Global warming is happening far too rapidly for natural factors to be involved. The evidence, accepted by at least 97 percent of climate scientists, is that humans are the cause of climate change. Period.
Q. What Factors Determine Earth’s Climate?
The sun continues to have an influence, but the critical factor in today’s world is the greenhouse warming effect which is caused by heat-trapping gases that reflect heat escaping from the planet’s surface back to Earth. These gases, known as greenhouse gases, include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. They are emitted into the atmosphere by power plants, cement factories and other industrial processes that burn fossil fuels.
Q. Do Cows Contribute to Global Warming?
I’m afraid so. All ruminant livestock – including cattle, sheep and goats – have a forestomach (rumen) that contains microbes called methanogens. These organisms enable livestock to digest coarse plant material but produce methane as a by-product of digestion (enteric fermentation). This methane is released into the atmosphere by the animal passing wind. Over a 20-year period, methane traps 84 times more heat escaping from the planet’s surface, than carbon dioxide. 6
Q. Does Deforestation Cause Climate Change?
Yes. When trees are cut down (and burned) during deforestation, they are converted from net-absorbers of carbon dioxide to net emitters. But some research in higher altitude forests killed off by pine beetles (but not burned) suggests that CO2 emissions may be less than expected. 7 8
FAQs About The Greenhouse Effect
Q. When Was The Term ‘Greenhouse Effect’ First Used?
The term “greenhouse effect” was first used to describe global warming by the English physicist John Henry Poynting (1852-1914) in 1909. It appeared in Poynting’s commentary on the temperature of the Earth and Mars. 9
Q. Is The Greenhouse Effect Natural or Man-Made?
Before 1750, the greenhouse effect was entirely natural. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases warmed the planet but the amounts were fairly stable and Earth’s climate system managed to distribute the excess heat and keep everything in balance. But, from the mid-18th century onwards, humans started burning coal in huge quantities to power the machines, steam engines and factories, invented in the Industrial Revolution. As well as coal, we also burned petroleum and natural gas. Unfortunately, this fossil fuel usage resulted in larger and larger emissions of carbon dioxide, which dramatically boosted the greenhouse effect, upset the energy balance and caused global temperatures to rise to unprecedented levels.
Q. How Does The Greenhouse Effect Work?
The greenhouse effect is caused by certain gases (greenhouse gases or GHGs) accumulating in the troposphere – the lowest section of Earth’s atmosphere. Here, they trap heat trying to escape from the surface of the planet, and re-radiate it back to Earth. For thousands of years, this heat-trapping action helped to maintain Earth’s temperature at a cosy 14 degrees Celsius (about 57.5 degrees Fahrenheit), instead of the chilly 0 degrees Celsius (minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit) it would have been otherwise. Then, in the 18th century, as we have seen, humans started burning way too much fossil fuel causing the planet’s climate system to become worryingly unstable. 10 11
FAQs About Emissions
Q. What Are the Main Greenhouse Gases?
The most prevalent and powerful man-made greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Others include: synthetic F-gases, such as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Sulfur Hexafluoride and Nitrogen Trifluoride.
These gases vary significantly in their heat-trapping ability and the length of their active life span. For details, see: Global Warming Potential (GWP).
Q. Where Do Greenhouse Gases Come From?
Man-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) are emitted by various processes. The most abundant GHG is carbon dioxide (CO2), which comes from the burning of fossil fuels as well as wood burning. Methane (CH4) comes from livestock and livestock waste and thawing permafrost in anaerobic conditions. Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions come mainly from agricultural fertilizers. Synthetic industrial gases like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and the other F-gases, are made specifically for certain industrial processes. Although they are extremely powerful greenhouse gases, they are found in the atmosphere in relatively small quantities.
Q. Are All Greenhouse Gases Man-Made?
No. Many greenhouse gases occur naturally, and form a natural part of our atmosphere. Water vapor evaporating from the Earth’s surface is the most common greenhouse gas, although its presence in the atmosphere is very temporary. Carbon dioxide, too, arises naturally through the respiration of plants and trees, and whenever organic carbon is burned (wildfires) or decomposes in the presence of oxygen. Volcanoes also emit CO2. A single eruption, lasting only hours, can add many millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Methane is emitted from wetlands, paddy fields and bogs, or wherever organic material (vegetation and the like) decompose without oxygen. Nitrous oxide is also given off naturally by soils under natural vegetation. As it happens, uncultivated soils make up most of the Earth’s land surface. See also: Why is Soil So Important to the Planet?
Q. Do Trees Emit Carbon Dioxide?
Q. Are Trees Good or Bad for Our Climate?
Live trees are good; rotting or burning trees are bad. Trees absorb a huge amount of CO2 while they are alive (making them the perfect ‘carbon sink’). When they die, however, they undergo decomposition during which CO2 is emitted by decomposers, like fungi. So they turn from net-absorbers to net-emitters. Worse still, if the trees are burned (during slash-and-burn farming practices) or during wildfires, they emit large quantities of CO2, becoming large-net-emitters in the process. See also: Tree-Planting – Is It the Answer to Global Warming?
FAQs About the Effects of Climate Change
Q. How High Will Sea Levels Go?
Nobody knows for sure. Scientific studies suggest sea level rise could be anywhere between 3 and 10 feet by the end of the century, although it could easily be worse. It depends entirely on the rate of warming. Some experts think that a rise of 15-20 feet is already inevitable, enough to make some large coastal cities uninhabitable. 13 14
Q. Are Recent Hurricanes and Cyclones Linked To Climate Change?
The scientific evidence suggests that global warming exacerbates many of the extreme weather events that make the news. The frequency and severity of hurricanes, typhoons, drought and heatwaves, for instance, are all believed to be aggravated by climate change. However, there is no clear evidence that tornadoes are in any way affected. 15
Q. Are Recent Wildfires In The Arctic, California And Australia Linked To Climate Change?
Yes. Although wildfires typically have local or regional triggers, the elevated temperatures in the Arctic, California and Australia must have aggravated matters by creating tinderbox conditions. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is believed to have been a major factor in the Australian bushfires 2019-2020, that engulfed NSW and Victoria, and this is definitely amplified by global warming.
Q. What Are “Tipping Points”?
Climate tipping points are critical thresholds that, once crossed, trigger an irreversible sequence of events leading to intensified global warming. The most serious tipping points involve runaway ice melt, irreversible permafrost thaw, or drying out (“savannization”) of the Amazon Rainforest. All three would lead to catastrophic consequences for the biomes involved as well as the planet itself.
Q. Are The Ice Sheets In Greenland And Antarctica Melting?
Yes. Latest research shows that both of these ice sheets have been losing mass (ice) since at least 1979, if not earlier. Studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Antarctic Ice Sheet indicate that in both cases the rate of increase has speeded up markedly in the last two decades. 16 17
Q. Are Earth’s Glaciers Melting?
Yes. Since the early 20th century, with few exceptions, glaciers across the world have been declining at unprecedented rates. Several glaciers have disappeared altogether over the past century. Many more are retreating so fast that they may vanish within a matter of decades.
Q. Is Arctic Sea Ice Melting?
Yes. At an average of 2.6 percent per decade since 1979.
Q. How Is Permafrost Affected By Climate Change?
Permafrost – frozen earth – is mostly found in the tundra and circumpolar forests of the Northern Hemisphere. It contains large amounts of semi-decomposed carbon-rich remains of plants, trees and animals. As the permafrost thaws, the carbon-rich remains complete their decomposition, releasing either carbon dioxide or methane, both of which boost the greenhouse effect. See also: Carbon Cycle: How Does It Work?
Q. Is Global Warming Heating the Oceans?
Yes. Latest research shows ocean heat rising at an accelerating rate as the oceans absorb 93.4 percent of the thermal energy caused by global warming. The rate of heat increase from 1987 to 2019 is 4.5 times faster than the rate from 1955 to 1986. What’s more, average ocean temperatures over the past five years (2015-2019) make them the hottest years on record. 18 See also: Effects of Global Warming on Oceans.
FAQs About Decarbonization
Q. What Is Decarbonisation?
In the context of global warming, decarbonisation (or decarburization) means the reduction of carbon content of fuels used in the electricity, transport or heating industries, or in the iron & steel and cement manufacturing industries. By reducing the carbon content of fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, we reduce carbon emissions, thus helping to control global warming. Scientists have yet to produce a very-low or no-carbon form of petroleum or natural gas, so in practice decarburization means switching to renewable forms of energy.
Q. Is ‘Clean Coal’ The Answer To Our Energy Problem?
In the wake of the recent Kemper coal plant flop in Mississippi, it seems that so-called ‘clean coal’ – involving carbon capture and storage – is largely an illusion created and sustained by big coal to extend its commercial lifetime.
Q. Will Fracking Resurrect The Fossil Fuel Industry?
It seems unlikely. Hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking‘ may have helped to turn the United States into one of the largest producers of natural gas, but it’s an expensive process which is unsustainable in a low oil-price environment. Furthermore, while burning gas instead of coal in power plants will reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly in the short run, as a fossil fuel, gas will have to be phased out in the medium or long term, thus discouraging potential investors, especially if fossil fuel subsidies are removed. Fracking also arouses opposition from conservation groups because its huge need for water, which often depletes local water supplies.
Q. Is Renewable Energy a Realistic Alternative To Fossil Fuels?
There are five main forms of renewable energy in use: solar power, offshore and onshore wind power, organic biomass, geothermal energy and hydropower (hydroelectricity). Next generation renewables include wave power and tidal power, both of which are still in the early stages of development. Meantime, nuclear fusion remains rather futuristic. These clean energies may be somewhat costlier in the short term, but they undoubtedly pay for themselves by minimizing the enormous cost of climate change.
The big issue is reliability of power and whether smart grids can be developed to store and transport this type of natural energy. 19
Q. Is Renewable Energy Sustainable Energy?
Not necessarily. A fuel can be renewable but we can use too much of it, too fast. Or, we may discover it causes serious ecological or environmental damage. In either case, the energy is not sustainable. For a simple explanation, see: Sustainable Energy Explained.
Q. Can Hydrogen Power Help Our Climate?
Yes. We can employ unused electricity from intermittent energies like wind and solar power to generate hydrogen energy (via electrolysis), which has two huge benefits. First, a new form of renewable power is created; second, the process eliminates waste in the solar and wind sectors. A double benefit for the mitigation of climate change.
Q. What Is The Latest News On Electric Cars (EVs)?
In the United States, sales of electric light vehicles (including hybrids) in 2019 rose from a very low base to 2 percent, but the EV market will take time to develop, especially as oil prices have taken a recent dip. Furthermore, while emission reductions from EVs make them greener than petrol/diesel cars – even if their electricity comes from burning coal – it’s possible they will only achieve a real breakthrough when their electricity comes from renewable power.
That said, more and more cities around the world are suffering from serious air pollution, which provides authorities with a ready-made opportunity to improve their air quality and carbon emissions, by encouraging motorists to go electric. Less smog is one of the most important benefits of renewable energy, especially in major urban areas. See also: Health Effects of Air Pollution.
Q. Is Nuclear Power a Possible Replacement for Fossil Fuels?
Is nuclear energy a replacement for fossil fuels? No. It may be a low-emission energy source, but the nuclear industry’s record of environmentally responsible waste disposal is totally inadequate.
For the latest news on nuclear energy, see: Nuclear Fusion.
Climate Action & Solutions
Q. Can We Stop Global Warming?
Yes, but time is running out. We could be close to a tipping point that could set off a cascade of unpleasant consequences. Governments need to collaborate on the creation of a worldwide climate action plan, to both reduce the severity of global warming and cushion its effects, especially on developing countries. One of its main planks must be a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
Q. What Is The Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement of 2015 was the last show of climate cooperation by world governments. The agreement proposed to limit the increase in Earth’s average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but to pursue efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C, in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
Since it was signed into force in 2015, it has been ignored or rejected by enough important countries to consign it to oblivion, unless strenuous efforts can be made to save it. See also: Our Climate Plan Can’t Cope.
For details of international discussions and negotiations on climate change and its effects, see our article: UN Climate Talks & Timeline.
Q. Will Carbon Taxes Solve Our Carbon Emissions Problem?
Supporters say Yes. At the very least, a large carbon tax will make emitters pay for their pollution, and discourage consumers from buying their products and services. Carbon taxes need careful planning and money raised should be used to encourage the use of renewables. 20
Opponents say, whether or not it reduces emissions, a carbon tax must be properly designed and applied, otherwise it will violate basic climate ethics and undermine support for climate action. For an explanation, see our article on the Ethics of Climate Change.
Q. What Can I Do As An Ordinary Person To Help Tackle Global Warming?
A good start, is to increase your awareness and knowledge of climate change and how it affects ecosystems, biodiversity and pretty much everything else on the planet. You could begin by browsing this website and sharing some of its articles with a dozen of your friends. After that, the most important thing you can do is to exercise your rights as a citizen, by speaking up and demanding change, like so many other people are doing around the world.
Q. Is There Any Personal Action I Can Take That Doesn’t Involve Others?
Yes. You can find out what your carbon footprint is (by clicking the link at the top of this article) and, if it’s higher than it should be, you can try to reduce it. Check out: How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
Avoiding plane journeys, reducing your intake of meat, choosing an electricity supplier that relies on renewable energy, and sharing a car, are all pretty effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint. And while making these changes to your lifestyle won’t necessarily save the planet, they will raise your own consciousness about the issue of energy consumption — as well as the awareness of the people around you. In fact, talking about energy conservation and the avoidance of wasted energy is one of the most relevant things you can do.
Q. Does Mismanaged Plastic Waste Cause Global Warming?
No. But it does lead to a loss of biodiversity. So far, according to studies, marine creatures from 267 different species have choked to death after microplastics and other pieces of plastic blocked their digestive tracts. 21 That’s why we need to dispose of plastic waste in the safest possible manner.
Mismanaged plastic waste may not cause global warming but the huge amount of plastic material being produced, certainly does. That’s according to a recent report “Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet” (2019) from ciel.org. The report says, the manufacture and incineration of plastic in 2019, will generate 850 million tonnes of CO2e greenhouse gas emissions. If current trends continue, these emissions will expand to an unbelievable 1.34 billion tonnes by 2030.
In other words, don’t buy plastic if you can avoid it.
Q. Does Plastic Pollution Cause Human Health Problems?
Second, according to a 2017 global drinking water study, 83 percent of global tap water samples were found to contain fragments of micro plastic waste. The study showed that on average, people may be ingesting somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 microscopic particles of plastic from tap water, every year. 23 That’s why it’s so important to keep your purchase of plastic goods to a minimum.
Q. Why Do Some People Refuse To Accept Climate Change Science?
Skeptics or contrarians hold their viewpoint for various reasons. Some reject climate change because of ideology or because they support unrestrained capitalism; others because they work in the fossil fuel industry; some because they live in states or cities that depend upon coal, oil or natural gas for a living; while others reject climate change for the same reason that makes people join the Flat Earth Society.
However, climate skepticism is not really about a group of likeminded individuals, it’s about a carefully orchestrated propaganda machine, funded by conservative Think Tanks and the fossil fuel industry. To learn more about this machine and its connections with other campaigns, run by Big Tobacco and other groups, see our article: What is Climate Change Denial?
Q. Are Fossil Fuel Companies Aware Of The Damage They Are Causing To The Planet?
It’s impossible to prove exactly what and when the fossil fuel industry knew about climate change. However, thanks to research published in 2015 by InsideClimateNews, the Los Angeles Times, and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, we know something about Exxon‘s corporate awareness. (Note: Exxon, now Exxon Mobil, is one of the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies.)
According to the research, in 1978 an internal briefing paper” called “The Greenhouse Effect” was issued by researcher James Black, following a 1977 presentation to Exxon’s management committee. The report warned that man-made emissions could elevate global temperatures and cause serious consequences. As late as 2014, the year before they were exposed, analysis of Exxon Mobil Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments reports and Exxon Mobil Foundation 990 tax forms shows that the company continues to finance climate change denial groups. Between 1998-2014, the company donated over $30 million to such groups (Source: Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists). Since 2007, ExxonMobil has also given $1.87 million to Republican Congressional Representatives who deny climate change. 24
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- “Carbon Taxes: What Can We Learn From International Experience?”
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- “Your tap water may contain plastic, researchers warn (Update)”
- “Exxon’s Climate Denial History: A Timeline”