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Don’t believe in global warming? You don’t have to.

I recently received an email forward with a video clip featuring a prominent meteorologist refuting man-made global warming. John Coleman introduces himself as “founder of the Weather Channel, original weatherman on Good Morning America and a TV meteorologist for 55 years.” He makes himself sound pretty qualified.

Coleman claims that he loves the earth and wants to protect it, yet spends the next 8 minutes refuting the idea of man-made global warming.

In his video, Coleman shows impressive charts and graphs that point to the planet’s natural cycles of cooling and warming. He says these have existed throughout all of the earth’s history and are independent of human activity. Coleman’s assertions seem believable until you consider that some of his logic is clearly faulty.

Coleman says carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that is an essential part of our lives. We breathe it out. Plants need it. It’s a part of our atmosphere.

But he never says it’s possible to have too much, to upset the balance. Kudzu, for example, is a naturally occurring plant that, on its own merits, is not bad. But outside of its natural habitat, where it’s allowed to grow unimpeded, it becomes a problem.

Coleman also uses the quiet 2009 hurricane season as evidence that there is no such thing as global warming. He’s apparently forgotten his own argument that the earth goes through naturally occurring cycles; this past season was quiet because of an El Niño whose wind sheer prevented strong storms from developing.

I tend to agree with Brave New Traveler Editor Ian MacKenzie’s statement that “the resounding consensus among the world’s scientists fingering humanity as the cause was reason enough.” But I find it hard to argue with people who, like Coleman, refute climate change with “science” (apart from his other, dubious claims).

So I’ve stopped trying.

Coleman says the hypothesis of human-caused global warming has been disproved and that we should stop talking about it.


Let’s talk about all the other things that are happening, irrefutably, at the hands of the human race.

“I think we can go right ahead with our very good lifestyle, our modern society,” Coleman says, as pictures of cars and electronics appear on the screen next to him. “We can even power Las Vegas and continue with life…. Our earth is going to be just fine with the burning of fossil fuels as long as they last. We can have a modern, fossil fuel-powered civilization and not worry about the climate of planet earth.”

Actually, he’s wrong. Climate change may or may not be occurring, and it may or may not be our fault. Either way, we face other serious, man-made environmental problems, some of which are related to rising levels of carbon dioxide caused by human activity.

A recent study showed the world’s oceans, which absorb carbon dioxide, are becoming more acidic as a result of increased emissions. And this makes them less effective at continuing to absorb CO2.

This means more emissions are staying in the atmosphere and contributing to air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution contributes to 2.4 million deaths each year, as well as asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. Not to mention the decreased visibility that comes with smog that lowers our quality of life.

I guess John Coleman chooses to ignore the fact that powering Las Vegas contributes to a visibility-reducing haze over the Grand Canyon and water shortages.

I also take issue with Coleman’s nonchalance towards the use of fossil fuels. He may not think they contribute to global warming, but our current usage means we’re dealing with the geopolitical implications of energy dependence. Even if we extract more oil from domestic sources, doing so can physically damage habitats through drilling or through accidental spills. Plus, the world is catching on to the fact that cities with viable alternatives to car driving are more livable.

Our “very good lifestyle” has wreaked havoc on ecosystems around the world. We’re faced with issues such as mountaintop removal, trash accumulation in the North Pacific Gyre, dead zones created in our oceans from concentrations of farming chemicals, species struggling to survive because of habitat loss from development.

And Coleman thinks we should just continue on the way we are? Is he out of his mind?

The truth is that there’s a lot at stake with the issue of global warming. But don’t let the skeptics fool you into thinking there’s nothing else to worry about. Global warming or not, we all still have a responsibility to protect the planet.

Community Connection:

Climate change scientists warn that the world’s glaciers are disappearing. Read Where to Find Glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere and plan to see these giants before they disappear.

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About The Author

Megan Hill

Megan Hill is a freelance writer from New Orleans. She recently finished a year of service with AmeriCorps NCCC and is seeking representation for her memoir of her service. Read more from her on her website.

  • Abbie

    Megan, this is a great article! While I do think that the earth goes through natural cycles, it’s hard to ignore that we humans are polluting and are damaging the earth, potentially accelerating the “natural” cycle. Thanks for this :)

  • Megan Hill

    Thanks, Abbie!

  • Michelle

    Great article, Megan! People are so determined to prove this “true” or “false” that they’re missing the point. I find it hard to believe that quadrupling our world population in such an insanely short period of time won’t lead to some dangerous effects on our climate. I don’t care what we call it – global warming, climate change, the glaciers’ last hurrah – we need to be conscious and aware of what’s going on, not just ignore it and hope for the best.

    • Megan Hill

      Thanks, Michelle. I hate to see what will happen if we ignore it, but it looks like that’s happening anyway.

  • Nancy

    Thanks for this article, Megan. Despite some people’s semantic arguments, it’s foolish not to accept our increasing damage to the earth. We’re harming the earth and its natural cycles. Great piece.

    • Megan Hill

      Thanks, Nancy.

  • Greg

    who believes in global warming but doesn’t believe its bad? plants grow more with more co2, land opens up as glaciers melt… i think it might be a good thing.

  • Ryukyu Mike

    This discussion could go on forever. We got these scientists, driving their SUVs and climbing (riding elevators) up to their air conditioned offices and flying around in their corporate jets, running around telling the rest of the world to go green.

    Fish and turtles doin’ nasty things on the beach and in the water. Brown bears takin’ a crap in the woods and polar bears fallin’ off the ice and into the ocean. People choppin’ down the rain forests to grow food and burning wooden-trees to stay warm and cook their food ‘cuz they ain’t got electricity, yet.

    Watch a pond. It turns to scum. Everything dies. Then, it comes back someday; clean and clear. Mother Nature rules.

  • Poe Ettic

    I think something may be wrong with the link that is supposed to go to the recent study you cited because it just brought me back to the same article but that could just be me.

    I wanted to see that study because yes the oceans rivers and lakes do take in some carbon dioxide but they release so much more. Volcanoes, animals other than humans, and decaying plant matter have been doing what they for millions of years. The amount of carbon emissions humans create is no where near that of the planet itself.

    I do agree that even if we re not the cause of global warming that we should still take steps to preserve our planet while taking into consideration that we can’t hold developing countries to our own standards. I hate when people forget that :(

    Great article though :D

  • Turner

    There’s just so much waste… thinking about it is enough to turn your stomach. Probably why most people don’t.

  • zorindha

    Thank you for a great article! Whether or not people choose to believe it, the risks of doing nothing is so much higher than the costs of doing something.

  • Pingback: 6 Inspiring TED Talks About the Environment

  • James

    Of course the earth is warming. What do you think ended the last ice age?

  • Oze

    I agree with James. Of course the earth is warming, or else we would still be in an ice age. The true question is: what is the ideal temperature for the earth? Is it colder or warmer than it is today? And, is there really anything we can do about it? Until someone can asnwer those questions, all the rest is just hot air.

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