Myths and Facts About Global Warming

Myth: Global Warming will cause increased storm intensity and frequency.

Fact: Severe storms are more closely associated with cold weather than warm weather. The most severe storms in the North Sea, for example, occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries, after the onset of the Little Ice Age. Storms in 1421 and 1446 claimed 100,000 lives while a storm in 1570 claimed over 400,000. Since 1492, eight of the twenty “deadliest” tropical storms in the Atlantic occurred prior to 1850, the year most cited as the beginning of the current planetary warming trend. Only two of the top 20 deadliest storms occurred since 1963 and none of them occurred in the 1980s or 1990s, when the earth reportedly experience its hottest temperatures on record.


Myth: Global warming will cause a dramatic increase in tropical disease transmission, such as malaria, by the end of next century.

Fact: According to the United Nations’ World Health Organization, human transmission could become the predominant way in which diseases are spread, not just from person to person, but from continent to continent – by airborne and droplet spread, sexual transmission, bloodborne transmission, or direct contact.


Myth: Global warming is occurring.

Fact: Whether or not the planet is warming depends on one’s reference points. If the starting point for temperature measurement is the 16th century, then global temperatures have decreased, not increased. However, if the starting point is the middle of the 19th century, at the conclusion of the Little Ice Age, then the planet has warmed roughly 1.5 degrees Celsius. Available evidence suggests that there has been no significant warming in recent decades, however.


Myth: High levels of carbon dioxide will cause the temperature of the planet to rise.

Fact: Four hundred and forty million years ago, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were up to ten times current levels. Based on the U.N. climate models, the temperature during this period should have been between five and eight degrees Celsius warmer than today. Yet, geologic evidence suggests that the period was in the grip of a major ice age, with temperatures five to ten degrees Celsius colder than today. Recent history also suggests that carbon dioxide levels have little effect on global temperatures. The planet temperature has increased 1.5 degrees Celsius since the mid 19th century, two thirds of which occurred before 1940, when carbon dioxide emissions from human activities such as fossil fuel consumption were still minimal. Since 1979, carbon emissions from fossil fuels have risen 19%, yet the planet temperature cooled .09 degrees Celsius.

Information from: The National Center for Public Policy Research’s National Policy Analysis paper #165.

Issue Date: July 1997

Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #34, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C. 20001 Tel. (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301, [email protected],

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