MythBusters

At Home

1) “Taking action at home to stop global warming will cost me a lot of money.”
Reducing your contribution to global warming at home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, many steps taken to reduce your carbon emissions will also save heating, cooling, and electricity costs. A large portion of the energy used at home goes to heating, cooling and hot water, so this is a good place to look for savings. Turning the thermostat down by 1 degree could reduce carbon emissions and cut fuel bills by up to 10%. 
Sources: Directgov, “Greener Living”; Natural Resources Defense Council, “How to Reduce your Energy Consumption”.

2) “CFLs are too dangerous to use because they contain mercury.”
There is no reason to worry about the mercury in compact fluorescent light-bulbs (CFLs). CFL bulbs contain very little mercury – an average of 4 mg – about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. In fact, using CF bulbs actually prevents more mercury from being released into the air by power plants: power plants emit about 10 mg of mercury to produce the electricity needed to run an incandescent bulb, compared with only 2.4 mg of mercury needed to run a CFL for the same amount of time.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CFLs and Mercury Fact Sheet.

3) “If I use CFLs, I would have to sacrifice light color and quality.”
Once dismissed as buzzing tubes in offices, fluorescent lights have gone compact and upscale. Energy-saving compact fluorescents light-bulbs (CFLs) now rival the cozy, warm light of traditional incandescent bulbs. Today’s energy-saving bulbs can be used just about anywhere—as reading lights, in vanities and wall lights. Some are dimmable; others work in three-way lamps. Matching the right CFL to the right kind of fixture helps ensure that it will perform properly. You can ensure to obtain the kind of light you want by checking the colour temperature and wattage.
Source: Energy Star.

4) “Fluorescent lights are slow to start.”
By choosing an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, you are assured that it will turn on in less than a second, and reach at least 80% of full light output within 3 minutes.  Additionally, many lighting manufacturers offer 'instant on' CFLs.
Source: Energy Star.

5) “Turning my computer to sleep mode during the day is bothersome and doesn’t really make a difference anyway.”
The average desktop personal computer wastes nearly half of the energy it consumes as heat. This wasted electricity translates to higher electricity bills and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Using power management features on your computer can save nearly 1/2 a tonne of carbon dioxide – the most common greenhouse gas. With just a few simple steps, your computer can be set to automatically go to “sleep” when it’s not in use.
Source: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

6) “Leaving appliances plugged in when not in use is fine as long as they are switched off.”
As long as they are plugged in, electronic devices continue to use electricity – even when they are turned off. Up to 40% of electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off but still plugged in. Some experts say a computer uses up to 10 watts when it is turned off but still plugged in. Estimates indicate you can reduce your electricity bills by as much as 10% just by unplugging appliances and electronics when they are not in use.
Sources: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Climate Savers Computing Initiative .

On the Move

7) “Cars should run in an idling mode for several minutes before being driven.”
While this may have been common in the past, today’s electronic engines do not need more than a few seconds of idling time before they can be driven safely. In fact, the best way to warm up a car is to drive it, since that warms up the catalytic converter and other mechanical parts of the car, in addition to the engine.
Source:  Environmental Defense Fund, “Attention Drivers! Turn Off Your Idling Engines”.

8) “Repeatedly restarting your car is hard on the engine and quickly drains the battery.”
Frequently restarting your engine does negligible damage to the engine and does not drain modern batteries excessively. In fact, the opposite is true: idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and fuel-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage. And, the added wear to the car from idling is much less costly than the cost of fuel saved. Source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “National Idle-Reduction Campaign”.

9) “I couldn’t improve my car’s fuel economy unless I bought a new one.”
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or buy a new fuel-efficient car in order to minimise your contribution to global warming from driving. Just cleaning out your boot can help: removing 45 kilos of extra weight improves your fuel economy by up to 2%. On the highway, exceeding the speed limit by a mere 8 kilometres per hour results in an average fuel economy loss of 6%. Even keeping a roof-rack on top of your car can cost up to 5% in fuel economy. A service could boost your fuel economy anywhere from 4 to 40%.
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council, “How to Fight Global Warming”, Co-op America, “Climate Action”.

10) “I couldn’t reduce my contribution to global warming from driving unless I gave up using my car entirely.”
You don’t have to entirely give up using your car to help fight global warming. There are several ways to reduce the carbon emissions from your car, including regular car maintenance, avoiding carrying excess weight in your car, and avoiding excessive idling.  Additional resources may be available in your area, such as car-pooling and combining short car-trips into one.
Source: Carpool Australia.

Energy

11) “It’s too difficult to determine if my home is ‘energy-efficient’.”

By simply joining Make an Impact you will have access to a household and energy use calculator that will help you determine how efficient your house is. Join here.

Recycling

12) “I don’t always remember to recycle, but it doesn’t have a significant impact on global warming anyway.”
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps prevent global climate change by reducing the amount of energy used by industry, which involves burning fossil fuels like petrol, diesel and coal – the most important sources of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Additional benefits are derived from reduced emissions from incinerators and landfills and by slowing the harvest of trees, which are natural carbon sinks.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Recycling Saves Our Environment.

Basic Science

13) “Humans are only responsible for a small amount of the carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere each year, so global warming must be natural.”
In fact, human activity since the beginning of the industrial revolution has been the primary reason for the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) started to be burned, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased from about 280 parts per million to 380 parts per million in just 200 years. Land use changes have contributed to increased carbon dioxide levels, and emissions of methane and nitrous oxides from human activities have also contributed to global warming.
Sources:  U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis” February 2007; Catherine Brahic, NewScientist.com, May 16, 2007.

14) “Current global warming falls within historical changes – the Earth has been warming and cooling for millions of years.”
It is true that the Earth goes through cycles of warm and cold periods due to the interaction of many factors, including especially small variations in the planet’s tilt and rotation. A big difference now, however, is that pollution from human activity is causing the climate to change. This change is very rapid by historical standards. In fact, eleven of the last twelve years rank among the warmest since temperatures were first recorded in the late 19th century.
Sources: U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007 Synthesis Report, p. 30; National Audubon Society, “Global Warming: Get the Facts”.

15) “The science of global warming is too uncertain to take action.”
The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels (like coal, oil and natural gas) and cutting down forests. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which in 2005 the White House called “the gold standard of objective scientific assessment,” and 10 other National Academies of Science have stated that “the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.” The only debate in the science community about global warming is about how much and how fast warming will continue as a result of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, and we have more than enough facts to implement solutions right now.
Source: The National Academies, Joint Statement of National Science Academies: Global Response to Climate Change, 2005.

16) “A temperature rise of a few degrees is inconsequential.”
Even small increases in average global temperatures can have devastating effects on people, wildlife, and the places we live. An average rise of the Earth’s surface temperature of 0.8°C in the last century caused average sea-levels to rise by 17.8 cm. What may seem like a small temperature change has devastating consequences, including loss of Arctic habitat, extinctions, increasingly intense hurricanes, and drought and famine.
Source: National Audubon Society, “Global Warming: Get the Facts”.

17) “Global warming is caused by the sun, not humans.”
Variations in the amount of solar energy reaching Earth have a huge influence on our atmosphere and climate. But there is no correlation between solar activity and the strong warming during the past 40 years. For the last 40 years, while the Earth’s temperature has been rapidly rising, the sun has shown no trend of increased solar radiation. The scientifically recognised reason for global warming is higher levels of greenhouse gases trapping more of the sun’s heat.
Source: Fred Pearce, Climate myths: Global warming is down to the Sun, not humans, NewScientist.com, May 16, 2007.

18) “Scientists only have 145 years of temperature data. This is not long enough to draw accurate conclusions about climate change.”
Historical climate data, including average temperatures, can be derived from sources other than just actual temperature recordings. Studies of the geological record, pollen deposits, oceanic deposits, sea levels and ice cores all reveal important information about climates of the past. This evidence indicates that temperatures have risen about 0.8°C since the late 19th century while greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have increased by 18% (nitrous oxide), 35% (carbon dioxide), and 148% (methane).
Source: National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Global Warming Myth Busters.

19) “We can’t even accurately predict the weather a week from today, how can we predict what will happen 50 years from now?”
'Weather' and 'climate' are very different terms. A weather prediction is a short-term outlook of an hour, a day or perhaps a week. Analysis of the climate, however, involves studying long-term trends over decades or even centuries. The long-term trends of increased temperatures are readily revealed not only in temperature data collected for well over a hundred years, but also in detailed studies of ice cores from Antarctica. Furthermore, sophisticated long-term climate models which accurately track climate changes of the past century can be used to project into the future. Projections for increases in extreme weather events have already been verified by an increasing prevalence of droughts and heavy precipitation events.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Predicting Climate Change”.

20) “In the 1970s scientists were predicting a coming ice age. Now they say the globe is warming. Why should they be right this time?”
This myth is largely a product of the misinterpretation of scientific findings. While a few scientists thought that global cooling might be happening, there wasn’t the widespread scientific evidence and consensus among scientists that exists today about global warming.
Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “Earth's Temperature Tracker” November 2007.

21) “Ice is building up in central Antarctica, so global warming can’t be happening.”
Ice is building up in central Antarctica, but being lost on the edges and being lost very rapidly in Greenland. The loss of ice from Greenland has doubled in the past ten years, and the vast majority of glaciers around the world have been retreating over the past half century, meaning that they are melting at an alarming rate. In 2007 a record low area of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was observed. While a few areas of the Earth may actually become cooler as the climate changes, most areas are experiencing significant increases in temperature, with a worldwide average increase of 0.8°C.
Source: National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Global Warm Myth Busters.

22) “Global warming doesn’t affect me.”
How global warming affects you depends on such factors as where and how long you live. Just about every part of the planet has warmed since 1970. As global temperatures climbs to 3°C above present levels – which is likely to happen before the end of this century if greenhouse emissions continue unabated – the consequences will become increasingly severe. Agricultural yields will start to fall in many parts of the world. Millions of people will be at risk from coastal flooding. Heatwaves, droughts, floods and wildfires will take an ever greater toll. Even countries that escape the worst of the direct effects will feel the economic, social and political effects of what happens elsewhere.
Source: Michael Le Page, NewScientist.com, Climate myths: It's too cold where I live - warming will be great, May 16, 2007.

23) “It’s too late to stop climate change.”
Climate change is a continuing process that is already underway. Even if we made drastic cuts today to reduce our emissions from cars, power plants, land use, and other sources, the world would continue to warm because past emissions will stay in the atmosphere for decades or more. Although it is certainly too late to stop all climate change, the longer we delay effective action the more severe the impacts will eventually be. The IPCC (the United Nation’s scientific panel) concludes that, if we take no action to reduce emissions, there will be twice as much warming over the next two decades than if we had stabilised heat-trapping gases and other climate relevant pollutants in the atmosphere at their year 2000 levels.
Sources: Fred Pearce, NewScientist.com, May 16, 2007, Climate myths: We can't do anything about climate change; U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Fourth Assessment Report: Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis” p. 12, February 2007.

Measure Carbon Footprint - Calculate Potential Savings - Start Here!
Camera icon

In 3 Words

Share your story.



View Profiles Here
Globe Icon

Become a Make an Impact Hero

Tell us about the changes around your home

Click here