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3. There's no consensus among scientists
"The 31,000-strong 'Petition Project' is proof that there's no scientific consensus on climate change!"
Except that it's not a legitimate petition. An investigation by the Seattle Times into the "scientists" who signed the petition found that dozens of names were made up, including "Perry S. Mason," "Michael J. Fox," "John C. Grisham" and Spice Girl "Dr. Geri Halliwell."
Only 0.1 percent of the Petition Project signers have a background in climatology. An unrelated survey found that 97.4 percent of actual climatologists who actively publish research on climate change believe that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.
Twenty-four scientific organizations and the Academy of Sciences from more than a dozen different countries all support the consensus, and a survey of all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject of global climate change published between 1993 and 2003 found that not a single paper rejected the consensus position.
2. It hasn't warmed for over a decade
This wholly inaccurate argument is a favorite of Glenn Beck and his ilk.
Here are the facts: 1998 was a record-breaking, blazing hot year. Since average global temperatures haven't quite reached those levels since, some critics have claimed that the Earth hasn't continued to warm over the past decade—or even that the Earth is in a cooling period.
That's just wrong. Though there were several years in the past decade of relatively cooler global temperature averages, that has to do with normal short-term climate variability caused by climate events like El Niño and La Niña. The combination of global warming and El Niño produced the dramatic spike in 1998, while La Niña has contributed to slight cooling in years like 2008—which was still the 10th warmest year on record. In fact, NASA research has found that the past decade was the warmest on record and 2010 temperatures are on track to reach near-record levels. Or, put in simple terms: A year of record-breaking heat (1998), followed by a decade more of still-record breaking heat, isn't cooling. It's record-breaking heat (see "Global Temperatures" chart).
Moreover, surface temperatures aren't everything. The entire planet, including the oceans, is accumulating heat. Skeptical Science puts the data in terms that are easier for the layperson to understand: The amount of heat that the oceans have accumulated since 1970 is roughly the equivalent of "190,000 nuclear power plants pouring their energy output directly into our oceans."
1. It's all the sun's fault
In 2004, a group of researchers announced that the sun is increasingly active, and that a rise in the number of sunspots corresponds to the rise in temperatures over the past century. Of course, global warming skeptics jumped on this as an easy explanation for warming.
But the fact is, the sun has shown a slight cooling trend—in direct opposition to the warming trend on Earth. Naturally, the sun does have a lot of influence on the climate, and during the 1,150 years for which scientists have records, temperatures on this planet closely correlated with solar activity.
It was right around 1960 that the Earth's temperatures began to break away. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have concluded that the sun's role in warming trends is, in fact, negligible.
Stephanie Rogers writes for ecosalon.com, where a version of this story first appeared.