5 Myths of Environmentalism and the Climate Change Debate
Updated: May 21, 2019
By Sadie F.
1. Electric cars are great for the environment.
Electric cars may be very efficient at converting energy into movement, but if you don’t get your energy from a renewable source then they can be less environmentally friendly than hybrid cars. According to the Guardian, the largest carbon footprint of an electric that runs on coal energy car is the energy it takes to transport and create the electrical energy the car runs on. Furthermore, it explains, having a hybrid can have less of an environmental impact than a coal powered electric car. Electric cars are not the answer to the climate crisis until we transition the energy grid to renewables.
2. GMOs are bad for natural habitats.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) aren’t inherently bad for the environment. They can reduce pesticide application by producing resistant varieties according to a study conducted by the University of Arizona. However, according to the New York Times, it can lead to herbicide-resistant superweeds if used improperly. When plants that are genetically engineered to be resistant to weed killers are overused, it can lead to the same gene making its way into the weeds in those fields. In a world where new strains of diseases will be amplified, having the ability to cope and farm among these diseases will be paramount for food security. To ensure that, we may need to rely on GMOs.
3. There are many climate skeptics.
There is a misconception that converting people into climate change believers will solve the issue, but as polling done by the Yale Center for Climate Communication in 2018 found, almost 72% of Americans believe global warming is happening, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Yet only 41% of those people believe that global warming affects them personally. This distance is what has put climate change on the back burner of many legislative agendas.
4. Natural gas is a clean alternative.
Don’t be fooled by the name, natural gas isn’t as clean as it sounds. Although the actual process of burning it releases 50 to 60 percent less heat-trapping CO2, its major footprint is produced during the drilling and transportation processes, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The drilling is often harmful to local ecosystems and releases harmful methane which is 34 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2. And the process of transportation through pipelines often leaks methane. It does reduce the release of harmful pollutants but it can increase concentrations of pollutants in communities around extraction sites. Although natural gas may look like a clean alternative to coal energy, it is often as bad as coal for the environment.
5. Solving climate change will come at a big economic cost.
One argument that politicians use to avoid taking action against climate change is that it would cost too much. Although combating the climate crisis would involve a large upfront investment, the losses that would come with inaction far would far outweigh it. The Fourth National Climate Assessment stated that some sectors could experience losses of hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century if we fail to combat climate change. Moreover, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there could even be economic benefits to mitigating climate change by investing in clean energy including the creation of new jobs and technologies. Solar and wind industries are more labor intensive than fossil-fuel industries because solar and wind units require people to install and maintain.