Myth #3 The Earth Isn’t Really Warming After All – Kyle Nelson


The idea that the Earth is not actually warming is one of the most pervasive myths about climate change, and it is also one of the most straight-forward.  The basis for this myth comes from the fact that the global average temperature in 1998 was close to the average temperature today, and so one can draw a line between the average back then and the average now and such a line will be flat.  While it is true that global average temperatures in 1998 were similar to present averages, the fact is that 1998 was an unusually warm year due to the effects of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  During the warm phase of the El Niño cycle sections of the Pacific Ocean accumulate large amounts of unusually warm water, leading to higher than normal global average temperatures.  By using earlier years as a baseline it becomes clear that the overall trend has been towards steadily increasing temperatures over time.  

In addition to placing 1998 into context as an El Niño year there are other reasons to think that the Earth is growing warmer.  One such reason is that 2014 was the hottest year on record, despite the fact that it was not an El Niño year.  Additionally, nine of the ten hottest years on record have all been in the 21st-century.  It is hard to imagine that the Earth isn’t really warming, or that such warming has paused, given such overwhelming evidence.  If one were to accept the claim that the Earth is not warming at all, then the need to moderate our consumption of resources and move towards a more sustainable way of life becomes a matter of luxury rather than urgent necessity.  It is vital that false information about climate change is challenged with empirical evidence, especially during such a pivotal time in our planet’s history when the choices that we make have such lasting effects for future generations.

1 thought on “Myth #3 The Earth Isn’t Really Warming After All – Kyle Nelson

  1. Sean Riley McMahon

    I enjoyed this slide of your guys’ presentation most since I am originally from Salt Lake and year after year I have seen warmer and warmer temperatures, in my lifetime! See my most recent post “Spring Skiing and Noticeable Climate Change” for more there. It is hard to deny the trend any longer. Nice job!

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