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Why is climate change such a controversial issue?

Scientists do agree climate change is happening.

Almost all professional climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and happening fast, as a direct result of human activity. Their work suggests that for the Earth to continue to be a safe place for us to live, humans must very quickly reduce the amount of CO2 that we release into the atmosphere as a result of our way of life.

But to stop producing CO2 is an enormous challenge.

For that to happen, everyone on the planet would have to change how we live, eat, work and play. Our modern world relies completely on the use of fossil fuels, which release CO2 when burned. Changing our use of them could cause huge upheavals in industry, world trade and how we produce and use energy. All of this would cost a vast amount of money and take a huge effort worldwide. Many developing countries believe that they have no choice but to burn fossil fuels in order to grow their economies to reduce poverty and that it is the rich countries who should cut back, not them.

Knowing what to do about the problem depends upon knowing whether the scientists have got it right.

So how can we tell this?

Next: Climate science and the peer review process


Activity: Make a list of the things that you do each day that in some way require heating, electricity or oil powered transport. Each of these lead to CO2 being released into the atmosphere. What about all the things you use? What fossil fuels were used to get them to you?