1. There’s more ice in Antarctica than ever.
The past few years have seen an expansion of Antarctica’s coastal ice sheets – a byproduct, ironically, of climate change, which has brought increased snow and rainfall to the continent. Meanwhile, Antarctica’s inland ice sheets are melting at an alarming rate – 1,350 billion tons of ice disappeared into the ocean between 1992 and 2011. And that rate is increasing, fueling global rises in sea level.
2. The climate may be changing, but human activity has nothing to do with it.
Many skeptics claim that ice ages have come and gone over the millennia, and global warming is no different. But those earlier climate shifts were caused by phenomena like changes in the Earth’s orbit. The current rise in global temperatures has coincided with a nearly 40 percent rise in CO2 levels over the past 150 years.
3. Whatever happens, we can adapt.
True, perhaps, for rich countries. But the worst impacts of climate change – drought, famine, disease – will disproportionately strike the poorest nations. And even the well-off will be hit hard: Between 2011 and 2012, the U.S. government dished out more than $100 billion in climate-related emergency spending.
4. The pace of warming has slowed significantly in the past 15 years.
This may be true for the Earth’s surface, but, according to NASA’s Josh Willis, it doesn’t tell the whole story, because “over 90 percent of the heat trapped by global warming is going into the oceans.”
This story is from the September 26th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.