How to Challenge People About Global Warming Theories

The scientific community has come to the consensus that Earth is warming and humans are the cause of it. While Earth has always had natural cycles of warming and cooling, the rate at which the current warming is increasing is far beyond the normal variation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and all scientific societies, national and international,[1] have accepted anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming as fact. However, there are still those who argue that it simply isn't happening or that humans cannot be the cause. Here are a few of the more popular claims made by the skeptics and how to refute their claims.


  1. Image titled Challenge People About Global Warming Theories Step 1
    Explain that scientists have measured increasing temperatures and CO2 levels in several ways if skeptics argue that the only real evidence for global warming is CO2 in ice core samples where it's very cold. Research with ice cores has revealed that the increases in temperature seen in the last twenty years would be expected to take place over several thousand years. Scientists can measure historical levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and temperature over thousands of years from ice core samples, but this is not the only way. The most obvious and direct way of measuring temperature directly is with thermometers, but weather balloons and satellites are also being used to monitor temperature. Atmospheric CO2 is measured with sensitive equipment as well as flask samples. CO2 can also be measured in seawater. The overall trend of CO2 is that it has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution. Coupled with historical data, contemporary measurements, and computer models, CO2 is shown to have a strong correlation with recent warming.
  2. Image titled Challenge People About Global Warming Theories Step 2
    Explain that human's recent contribution to the total levels of CO2 has offset the natural process and have caused the world to warm if skeptics argue that the total human-produced CO2 levels are small compared to natural sources. It is estimated that if humans were not present, ninety-five percent of CO2 emissions would still occur. However, natural emissions are balanced by other natural processes that absorb CO2, such as plants and oceans. Additionally, CO2 causes heating through the greenhouse effect even in small quantities. CO2 has a long atmospheric lifetime. Once released, it can stay in the atmosphere for 200-450 years.
  3. Image titled Challenge People About Global Warming Theories Step 3
    Explain the importance of offsetting human contributions to the atmospheric CO2 levels as opposed to eliminating CO2 if skeptics argue that greenhouse gases are some of the most vital elements of this planet that keep it in order. Oceans and volcanoes help produce the atmosphere on a planet. CO2 and other greenhouse gases are vital to our existence on this planet. Explain that we do not want to remove all the CO2 from the atmosphere. It's estimated Earth would be 30° C (54° F) colder without CO2, making Earth uninhabitable. However, too much CO2 can harm the Earth.
  4. Image titled Challenge People About Global Warming Theories Step 4
    Explain that the wavelength at which solar radiation passes through the atmosphere is not same as the infrared radiation Earth radiates back into space if skeptics argue that the very notion of the greenhouse effect is flawed because UV rays from the sun penetrating the CO2 in the first place ought to be able to escape. The greenhouse effect was discovered in 1824.[2] Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, hinder the process of allowing radiation to reflect back into space. This is the greenhouse effect.
  5. Image titled Challenge People About Global Warming Theories Step 5
    Explain that troposphere temperatures have been rising .22 to .4° F per decade since 1979 if skeptics argue that the troposphere, the area that would be the hottest if greenhouse gases were causing climate change, is relatively cool. The troposphere is warming, just like the land temperatures.


  • The urban heat island, the warmer area around urban center, has been shown not to effect global temperature measurements. Globally, temperatures are rising. Local temperatures, of course, fluctuate with weather patterns. Additionally, if you look at the oceans, on which the urban heat island has no effect, you can find similar increases in temperature.
  • The reduction of ozone depletion is a result of our efforts to reduce our CFC emissions and has virtually nothing to do with our CO2 emissions.
  • By exhaling, humans are a natural source of CO2 emissions. By burning fossil fuels, humans are also an unnatural source of CO2 emissions. The burning of fossil fuels is considered the main cause of global warming.
  • The current level of CO2 is approximately 383 parts per million. This is the highest level in twenty million years.
  • The most abundant gases in our atmosphere are, in order of highest to lowest, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and then carbon dioxide.
  • Keep in mind that not every scientist believes in global warming, and many are not even sure that man is responsible. You may not be able to convince everyone, but highlight the importance of minimizing energy use. Conserving energy stops pollution, prevents resources from being depleted, and saves money!
  • Keep global warming and cooling patterns in a healthy perspective. The temperature of the earth has never been stagnant. The planet has always been either warming or cooling. Thus, at any given time, one may employ an "if the trend continues" argument to suggest an impending global climate catastrophe.
  • Be ready to tell your sources (e.g. IPCC).


  • Consider the messenger. Is the messenger giving a message of fear or hope (both may suggest less than honest motives), one of sensationalist or of a sound rational approach? Doom and gloom are not helpful. Condemnation of those who don't agree and labeling them doesn't prove your position. Ad hominem attacks (such as name calling) are the sure sign of a weak argument!
  • Follow the money. Who is receiving money? How much money is being received? From what source is the money coming? Do the research. Avoid sources of information that have been corrupted by money.
  • Avoid partisan think tanks and other self-interested organizations (from both sides). They usually misrepresent the science or cherry pick information that may be inadequate or not relevant to the issue at hand.

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Categories: Environmental Awareness