As thousands of men and women stampeded the streets of the world, telling us that climate change is, in fact, incontrovertibly real, some people reproached the entire movement- calling it a sham- pointing out to plenty apocryphal facts. Today I talk about these “facts,” some of the most trending conversations around climate change, in an attempt to succinctly debunk them, by taking you on a tour of the most commonly made logical fallacies, and thereby, make you see why, after all, it is hard to #maketheworldgretaagain.
The Earth’s Climate Has Always Changed:
This is a quintessential example of genetic fallacy. A genetic fallacy is committed when an argument is either devalued or defended solely because of its origin. So, instead of looking at the actual merits of the claim, it is judged based on its origin. For example, “Sebastian’s views on art cannot be contested; he comes from a long line of eminent artists.” Likewise, many pseudo-intellectuals say that climate change is not real; (because) earth’s climate has always changed. Some of them also mention how the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), roughly from A.D. 1000 to 1400, was warmer than the 20th century, and that this should indicate the global warming we are experiencing now is part of a natural cycle. Do none of them understand that any indecision regarding whether the present is warmer than the MWP, which is a 48 percent increase since the beginning of the Industrial Age, has little effect on the finding that humans likely have caused most of the warming over the past 50 years?
Global Warming Isn’t Real as It’s Still Cold/Getting Colder:
I remember one of my distant relatives calling out global warming a fabrication because it’s still as cold during the winters, that, in fact, this winter it was even colder in Dhaka. This is a great example of fallacy of composition. The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. A single spell of cold weather in one small region is no indication that the Earth’s climate is not warming and in fact, independent studies show that climates have warmed in most regions in most seasons since the past ten decades, which reminds me I should direct my cousin to these studies, so that he can’t cold-shoulder these facts anymore. Pun intended, of course.
Animals Will Adapt to Climate Change:
This, my friend, is an example of hasty generalization. Remember the last time you said, “All boys are the same?” Yeah.
A hasty generalization is a conclusion based on an insufficient or non-representative sample. Perhaps Darwin was right about evolution, plenty of animals may be able to survive catastrophic changes in the climate, either by adapting to it, or just simply migrating. But given the speed at which the climate is deteriorating, we can either pray, or have a countdown.
The Higher the Level of CO2, the Better it is for Plants
With absolutely no idea from where this rumour originated, people have ever since jumped onto the bandwagon and believed it without batting an eyelid. This is an example of the bandwagon fallacy which is, as self-explanatory, based on the assumption that the opinion of the majority is always valid. It is true plants need carbon dioxide to live, but there is only so much they can intake, not to mention the benefits of rising CO2 in the air is only limited according to studies. So next time your friends or family go about saying the more CO2, the better for plants, remind them to recall what Elvis Presley had said: Only fools rush in.
Greta Thunberg Is Pretentious:
This is a good example of Ad Hominem. An ad hominem argument (from the Latin “to the man”) is one that attacks a person rather than the argument he or she is making, with the intention of diverting the discussion and discrediting their argument. For example- “You’re not a historian; why don’t you stick to your own field?” For the longest time, scientists have spoken and stashed evidence of the climate deteriorating and not a single soul seemed to have had paid heed or come up. The moment the news of a “16-year-old climate activist with Asperger” starts making the rounds, suddenly the world is collectively more alert, demeaning and dubious: “You’re a 16-year-old, why don’t you stick going to school?”
As the world now collectively fights against an unexampled disease, I recollect the times when many of us had jumped onto the bandwagon fallacy, thinking COVID-19 would never hit us. How long till we begin taking the climate crisis as seriously? When do we see that it is not a question of “what” anymore, but “when?” As New Economic Foundation’s Alfie Stirling has put it correctly, “We didn’t know coronavirus was coming; we’ve known the climate crisis was on the cards for 30 or 40 years.”
Book reference: An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi