Fact check: Global warming is caused by circulation patterns created by solar activity and the phases of the moon; it has nothing to do with humanity.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is primarily caused by human CO2 emissions and not solar or lunar activity.

The context

A clip of conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn on RT, the Russian state propaganda network, has circulated online on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. In the clip, Piers claims that climate change is not caused by CO2 but rather by circulation patterns caused by solar activity and the phases of the moon. He goes on to state that climate change has nothing to do with humanity and that humans have had no impact on the global temperature increase. To reinforce his point, Piers claims that 132 years ago a similar situation occurred with floods in Pakistan and heat waves in Russia.

In reality

Substantial evidence and scientific research shows that human activity is altering the climate by burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While climate change has happened historically, evidence shows that the rate of climate change in the modern era has increased significantly due to human activity. For example, reports from NASA indicate that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas released by burning fossil fuels and natural processes like volcanic activity. With an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, the global temperature also increases and warms the planet due to trapped heat. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased and shows a consistent relationship with the use of fossil fuels, with atmospheric CO2 increasing by 50% since the start of the industrial period. Human activity is directly responsible for this increase, and due to the increase in CO2, as the World Meteorological Organization indicates in a 2019 report, the global temperature has increased by approximately 1.1 degrees. Although that seems like a small number, even small increases can have profoundly disruptive effects on the climate as a whole.

Variations in solar activity are not the main culprits of climate change. A 2018 fact check from Science Feedback indicates that while solar activity has some effect on climate, the impact is small compared to the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming. The argument that the sun causes global warming has been dismissed due to current warming patterns in the stratosphere. Evidence shows that the Earth’s surface is warming and the stratosphere is cooling, which is an effect of CO2. If this were due to solar activity, the upper parts of the atmosphere – the stratosphere – would also heat up because they are closer to the sun.

There is no significant evidence that lunar activity and moon phases significantly affect global temperature; however, there are reports that it has subtle influences on weather patterns and increases the risk of flooding. A BBC Future article from 2021 outlines the moon’s various subtle effects on weather, using scientific research to back up its information. The article states that arctic temperatures increase slightly during a full moon and that lunar activity can increase precipitation by about 1%. However, it is important to note that weather changes are not the same as climate changes and the impact on the weather is subtle. The BBC article and a 2021 article from Reuters explain how lunar activity affects the tides and that the amplification of lunar activity combined with the effects of sea level rise due to global warming lead human will increase coastal flooding by 2030. This, however, does not indicate that the current magnitude of global warming is caused by lunar activity or that it plays a major role. Instead, lunar activity combined with the effects of global warming created by human activity will lead to greater flooding.

Piers Corbyn is a well-known conspiracy theorist pushing climate and anti-vax conspiracy misinformation. In a Logically Double Check on OpenVAERS, available herePiers Corbyn is among those spreading misleading information about Covid vaccines.

The verdict

There is overwhelming evidence that humans are the primary cause of global warming and that CO2 is a major greenhouse gas that increases global temperature. Solar activity has a minor impact on global warming and does not correlate with current trends in global warming caused by CO2 in the atmosphere. Lunar activity has effects on weather and flooding; however, it is not stated to have a major impact on global temperatures, and its role in increasing flooding is due to its combination with sea level rise. substantial evidence that climate change is caused by humans, we have marked this claim as false.

Teresa H. Sadler