20 Climate Change Rumors that Don't Hold Water

Facing the facts can be tough, especially when it comes to climate change.

Published March 13, 2024

Courtesy: TF1 (TF1)
Courtesy: TF1

Facing the facts can be tough, especially when it comes to climate change. A seemingly minor rise in temperature is actually stirring up significant shifts worldwide — think higher sea levels, fiercer storms and escalating health risks. So, how should we tackle this hot potato? While various solutions simmer on the back burner, "denial" seems to be the flavor of the month.

Denial, whether through sheer inactivity or deliberate obstruction, poses a major roadblock for advocates pushing for stronger policies and lifestyle changes. And for those feeling the direct heat of climate impacts, it's even more disheartening. Despite a chorus of scientific voices warning of the dangers, a stubborn cloud of misinformation persists, challenging the consensus that climate change is both real and man-made.

Today, we're taking a look at some questionable climate-change rumors that couldn't stand up to scrutiny. While some might sound plausible, others are just a little too ridiculous to take seriously! 

Did a Swedish Scientist Propose as a Solution to Climate Change?

In September 2019, a story rippled through the media suggesting a Swedish scientist had a bold solution to climate change: eating people. The Epoch Times headlined it as "Swedish Researcher Advocates Eating Humans to Combat Climate Change Food Shortages." Magnus Söderlund did spark this controversial conversation during a talk, but his main goal was to explore societal limits on meat consumption, even presenting humans as an extreme example.

Söderlund later clarified he neither supports nor suggests going after your neighbor as a climate solution, emphasizing his role as a researcher keen on questioning humanity's choices, including our dietary ones. A classic case of lost in translation, spiced with a pinch of sensationalism.

Did NASA 'Admit' Climate Change Is Caused by Changes in Earth's Orbit, Not Humans?

In a throwback episode of "The Misadventures of Hal Turner," our intrepid radio host unearthed a "bombshell" from the year 2000, courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory. The scoop? Climate change is all thanks to Earth's solar orbit and axis tilt, not gas-guzzling SUVs or your steak dinner. This revelation, as fresh as two-decade-old leftovers, was served with a side of misunderstanding about Milankovitch cycles — Earth's natural climate rhythm section. 

Natural News jumped on the bandwagon, turning this old news into viral content. It seemed to miss the memo that acknowledging Earth's dance around the sun doesn't cancel out human impact on climate change. So next time you hear about the groundbreaking discovery from 1958, remember it's just another episode in the ongoing series of climate-change denial.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Oppose Daylight Saving Time Because It Speeds Up Climate Change?

In a satirical twist that caught some off guard, NPC Daily published a faux bombshell from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, supposedly blasting daylight saving time as a climate-change accelerator due to that "extra hour of sunshine" cooking our planet. Spoiler: The New York Democrat never said this — NPC Daily is just pulling your leg. 

This comedic episode reminds us of the time Benjamin Franklin jokingly suggested daylight saving to save candles, a jest turned real policy with questionable energy-saving benefits today. So, while we're not getting more sun because of a clock change, we are getting a good laugh!

Did California Threaten to Jail Climate-Change Skeptics?

In a world increasingly aware of environmental challenges, the spotlight often falls on how we discuss and address climate change. Yet, sometimes, legislative attempts to guide this conversation take a turn for the bizarre, leaving us to ponder the balance between regulation and free speech. A prime example of how this can spiral was seen in California with Senate Bill 1161, known as the "California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act."

This bill, despite rumors and exaggerated fears that it would lead to jail time for climate-change skeptics, was actually aimed at enabling civil actions against businesses that deliberately misled the public about the risks of climate change. What makes this bill stand out isn't just its misrepresentation or the social media frenzy it incited, but the sheer audacity of attempting to legislate against misinformation in a field as complex and politicized as climate science.

Did 30,000 Scientists Declare Climate Change a Hoax?

In a quirky twist of science meets skepticism, the Oregon Petition has been swirling through conversations since 1998, with the claim that more than 30,000 scientists call climate change a hoax. Spearheaded by the rather grand-sounding Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, this petition aimed to give the Kyoto Protocol the cold shoulder. 

With a whopping 31,487 signatures flashing degrees from Ph.D.s to bachelor's, it sounds impressive until you realize all you need is a science-related degree to join the party. So, before you think these are all climate experts, only a frosty 12% have relevant earth or atmospheric science degrees. It's a classic case of quantity over quality, making the petition more of a peculiar oddity than a scientific uprising.

Is Biden Administration Banning Gas Stoves Over Climate Change Concerns?

In January 2023, whispers of a U.S. gas stove ban sparked by President Biden's administration's climate concerns sizzled across social media, but the reality is less dramatic. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) clarified they're not cooking up any immediate ban or new regulations for gas stoves. Instead, they're just gathering info on potential health hazards from gas emissions.

Despite Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr.'s mention of banning as one solution to indoor pollution, the CPSC assures it's all about data collection for now. Meanwhile, health studies link gas stove pollutants to various health issues, prompting some lawmakers to push for safer standards, not an outright ban. With cities moving toward electric homes and buildings, the debate heats up, but for now, your gas stove isn't going anywhere.

Do These Pics of Sydney Harbor Debunk Sea Level Rise, Climate Change?

Photographs comparing Fort Denison in Sydney Harbor from the 19th century and today are being used to falsely claim that sea levels haven't changed, suggesting climate change isn't real. However, experts warn against drawing conclusions from such comparisons without considering factors like tide variations at the times the photos were taken.

The meme lacks crucial details such as the exact timing of each photo, rendering the argument unreliable. While the sea level rise in Sydney is subtle, at .75 millimeters per year, it's inaccurate to say there's been no change.

Are Weather Maps Scare Mongering About Climate Change?

In the scorching summer of 2022, some netizens claimed weather maps were being spiced up to make temperatures look frightful. But here's the scoop: meteorologists are simply using colors more intuitively to help us understand weather patterns better, not to scare us. Dave Herring from NOAA explains that cooler tones indicate cold temperatures, while warmer ones signal heat. 

This color strategy helps make complex data more relatable and easier for everyone to grasp. So, those before-and-after weather map comparisons floating around? They're mixing apples and oranges, comparing different types of maps. It's all about clarity, not climate crisis fear-mongering.

Did Ted Cruz Tweet 'I'll Believe in Climate Change When Texas Freezes Over'?

In the midst of Texas' harsh winter storms in February 2021, Senator Ted Cruz faced backlash for jetting off to Cancún. Amidst this, a fake tweet surfaced, supposedly from Cruz, saying, "I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over." 

Spoiler alert: no such tweet was ever found in Cruz's history or in archives, including ProPublica's deleted tweets. Turns out, the quote was part of a joke list marked as satire. So, this claim about Cruz's tweet? Totally false.

Are Rare 'Night-Shining' Clouds an Indicator of Climate Change?

The shimmering noctilucent clouds, or "night-shining" clouds, are becoming more common, hinting at rising levels of human-made greenhouse gases. Found about 50 miles up in the mesosphere, these clouds form when water vapor freezes around dust particles, glowing faintly at night due to sunlight from below the horizon. The increase in pollutants like methane boosts both water vapor and atmospheric dust, leading to more frequent appearances of these ethereal clouds. 

Research suggests this uptick may be a visible indicator of climate change, as human activities since the Industrial Revolution have significantly increased methane emissions, thereby contributing to the phenomenon.

Was Global Warming Data 'Faked' to 'Fit Climate Change Fictions'?

Since 2014, a claim has circulated online, suggesting NASA and NOAA manipulated historical temperature data to exaggerate climate change. Originating from a blog post and popularized by the site Natural News, this narrative accuses the agencies of scientific fraud. However, the adjustments in question are well-documented and transparent, aimed at correcting biases and errors in the raw data due to changes in measurement practices over time.

These modifications are necessary to ensure the accuracy of long-term climate records, such as the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP), which tracks global surface temperatures since 1880. Far from a conspiracy, these adjustments are part of rigorous scientific methodologies to accurately reflect global temperature trends.

Did Donald Trump Acknowledge the Threat of Climate Change to His Irish Golf Course?

A viral meme falsely claims former President Donald Trump believes in climate change because he built a seawall around his golf course.

While Trump has expressed skepticism about climate change, the construction of the seawall was primarily attributed to erosion issues, not climate change acknowledgment. The meme's humor stems from the ironic implication that Trump's actions contradict his stance. However, it misinterprets the situation and Trump's beliefs.

Did the Department of Energy ask a Scientist to Remove the Words 'Climate Change' from a Grant Proposal?

In August 2017, Ecology professor Jennifer Bowen alleged that the Department of Energy (DOE) requested the removal of "climate change" from her grant proposal. Bowen posted the email exchange on Facebook and expressed concern. The DOE denied such a policy, but reports indicated similar incidents under the Trump administration.

Bowen emphasized scientific freedom and dialogue, and clarifying the request didn't alter the research scope. Northeastern University reaffirmed its commitment to science's independence from politics. Bowen praised civil servants' dedication amid challenging circumstances. The incident highlighted ongoing debates over scientific integrity and political influence.

Did Maxine Waters Use a Picture of the Tide Receding as Proof of Climate Change?

Following President Trump's announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, politicians like Maxine Waters expressed dissent on Twitter. However, a parody account posing as Waters shared a tweet attributing receding tides to climate change. The confusion arose from the parody account's handle, which substituted two Vs for a W in Waters's name.

While the handle resembled Waters's real one, @MaxineVVaters, her authentic account is @MaxineWaters. This incident highlights the prevalence of parody accounts on social media and the importance of verifying information.

Did NOAA Scientists Manipulate Climate Change Data?

In February 2017, the British tabloid The Daily Mail published an article by David Rose alleging NOAA scientists rushed a climate study to influence the Paris Agreement. Rose cited a whistleblower, John Bates, claiming data manipulation. Bates clarified later, stating no data tampering occurred but criticized data handling. 

Rose's article lacked key context and didn't contact accused scientists. Despite controversy, NOAA's findings were validated by independent sources. The story, amplified by Lamar Smith's tweet, fueled skepticism, but the underlying science remained sound, supported by multiple studies. This incident underscores the importance of rigorous data handling in climate research.

Did President Donald Trump Sign an Executive Order on Climate Change?

On February 1, 2017, a CNN impostor site published a fake article claiming President Trump signed an Executive Order reversing his stance on climate change. The fabricated order supposedly declared climate change an immediate threat, directed agencies to reduce carbon footprints, and lifted gag orders on scientists. 

Trump was falsely quoted as admitting error and urging action on climate change. The story, widely shared, was debunked as clickbait fake news. No such order was signed, and Trump's actual environmental policies remained unchanged. The incident underscores the prevalence of misinformation and the need for critical evaluation of online sources.

Did Vivek Ramaswamy Call Climate Change a 'Hoax' After Saying It Was 'Real'?

During the 2023 Republican presidential debate, a video surfaced on X, showing candidate Vivek Ramaswamy allegedly calling climate change a "hoax" after previously acknowledging its reality. In March 2023, Ramaswamy stated on a podcast that climate change was real but criticized the approach to addressing it. 

However, during the debate, he declined to raise his hand when asked about human-caused climate change and asserted the "climate change agenda is a hoax." This sparked confusion as it contradicted his earlier stance. Ramaswamy's comments were interpreted differently by audiences, leading to debate over his position on climate change.

Did Greta Thunberg Delete Tweet Claiming Climate Change Will Wipe Out Humanity by 2023?

In March 2023, images of a purportedly deleted 2018 tweet from climate activist Greta Thunberg surfaced, suggesting she predicted humanity's extinction by 2023 due to climate change. However, the tweet misinterpreted statements from a Forbes article quoting climate scientist James Anderson, who discussed the need for urgent action to curb climate change by 2023. 

Thunberg deleted the tweet after March 7, 2023, but it did not claim humanity would end in 2023. Critics, including Charlie Kirk and Dinesh D'Souza, misconstrued the tweet's context, as Anderson clarified he never made such a prediction. Thunberg's tweet aimed to highlight the urgency of addressing climate change rather than predicting humanity's imminent demise.

Are Flowers Blooming in Antarctica Because of Global Warming?

On September 21, 2023, the @DailyLoud Twitter account shared a photo of blooming flowers, claiming it as evidence of accelerated ecosystem response in Antarctica due to global warming. However, Snopes confirmed it as a stock image from Greenland. The original caption mentioned icebergs and flowers in Greenland, and the image was flipped.

While the post was incorrect, a study by Nicoletta Cannone supports the idea of climate-induced changes in Antarctic plant dynamics. This 2022 study observed an expansion of native plant species due to warming and reduced seal disturbances on Signy Island, suggesting significant future ecosystem changes in Antarctica.

Did UN Official Say Nations Would Vanish If Global Warming Not Reversed by 2000?

On June 29, 1989, the Associated Press ran a story quoting a senior U.N. environmental official who warned of nations facing extinction due to rising sea levels if global warming wasn't reversed by 2000. While alarmist, the report has been misinterpreted. The official, Noel Brown, wasn't a climate scientist.

His statements were based on projections for the year 2100, not 2000. The warning stemmed from papers prepared for a U.N. conference held later in 1989, focusing on sea-level rise implications. Despite misconceptions, recent sea-level projections align closely with those from the late 1980s, suggesting the concerns were not entirely unfounded.

Shannon Sanford is a freelance writer assigned to come up with fun content from Snopes' archives.