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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

Fact check: Climate change caused by humans, not Earth's core - USA TODAY

Fact check: Climate change caused by humans, not Earth’s core – USA TODAY

The claim: Earth’s inner core is responsible for recent climate change trends

A Jan. 27 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) draws a connection between the interior of the Earth and modern climate change.

“The inner core is spinning differently then (sic) outer Earth and it actually stopped then reversed,” reads part of the post. “Explains why we have climate change too.”

It was shared over 200 times in 10 days.

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Our rating: False

There is no evidence the rotation of Earth’s inner core influences the climate. Research from an array of sources and methods shows human activities that release greenhouse gases are causing climate change.

No scientific link between core and climate, experts say

At this point, no scientific link between Earth’s inner core and the climate has been found, said John Vidale, an Earth science professor at the University of Southern California, and Tony Broccoli, an environmental science professor at Rutgers University.

“There is no plausible physical mechanism relating this phenomenon to climate,” Broccoli said. “In contrast, there is a long-established physical mechanism that connects the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to the warming of our planet.”

One social media post making a similar claim as the Facebook post references a study published in January in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience titled, “Multidecadal variation of the Earth’s inner-core rotation.” 

But the authors of the study, Xiaodong Song and Yi Yang from Peking University in Beijing, China, say the post takes their research out of context. There is no evidence that the inner core influences surface processes, let alone explains climate change, they told USA TODAY in an email.

“It’s a misinterpretation of our research results,” the scientists said.

While Song and Yang pointed out that both the Earth’s inner core and the climate go through cycles of similar lengths, there is no proof that a causal relationship between the two exists.

“Correlation does not imply causation,” Song said.

Fact check:Graph shows dated data from one area in Greenland, not global temperature change

It’s expected that scientists present a broader view of their research in papers, said Vadim Levin, a seismology professor at Rutgers.

“All they are saying is that, ‘Hey we found a time period that is kind of interesting and there is another process that is completely on the surface that has a similar period,'” Levin said.

Human activities impact the climate

The Earth goes through natural climate cycles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, “this variability does not explain the observed warming since the 1950s,” according to the agency’s website.

Researchers say rising global temperatures are consistent with human activity.

“The amount of warming we see matches what we expect based on the increased CO2 we’ve added,” NASA climate scientist Josh Willis previously told USA TODAY. “The timing of the warming matches the timing of the CO2 increase caused by people. Not only that, the timing of global sea level rise matches the CO2 increase.” 

The global average temperature from 2022 is 1.6 degrees above the long-term average from 1951 to 1980, according to NASA.

Fact check:Human activity, not temperature cycles, responsible for recent global warming

USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the post for comment.

Our fact-check sources:

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