Ph.D. student makes waves after debunking common misinformation pushed by popular podcast: 'People often get this wrong'

We all get things wrong sometimes. Usually, it has little to no consequence, but when your YouTube subscriber base is nearly 7 million strong, that can lead to misinformation spreading quickly.

Ben Shapiro once used his platform to criticize a speech from climate activist Greta Thunberg, who said that the world needs to “forget about net-zero” emissions and that we instead need “real-zero” emissions to effectively tackle the climate crisis.

Shapiro described this statement as “crazy,” but his reasoning appears to be a little flawed. The conservative commentator said that net zero is when we don’t produce additional emissions to the ones we are already producing. However, that’s an incorrect definition of the term.

On TikTok, Ph.D student Rosh (@all_about_climate), who has degrees in Earth and climate studies, explained what net zero actually refers to.

Rosh noted that “people often get this wrong,” so it’s not so surprising that Shapiro made a mistake, too.

“What net zero means is that we stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere,” Rosh said. “So, actually, Greta is kind of right here, because at the moment we’re pumping billions upon billions of tons of mostly CO2, but greenhouse gases more broadly, into the atmosphere, and it’s accumulating there.”

Rosh goes on to say that net zero means we would “effectively reduce our emissions to the point where they are canceled out by the amount of carbon that the world naturally absorbs on its own.”

Oceans and forests act as carbon sinks to take in this polluting gas from the atmosphere and store it. But carbon capture technology is also becoming more prevalent, sucking the planet-warming gas from the atmosphere.

Watch now: Climate scientist dispels misconception that burning wood pollutes more than burning dirty energy

However, the scale of this technology is nowhere near what we’d need to achieve net zero or negative emissions. As it stands, Rosh observed that existing carbon capture technology can only deal with 0.1% of total global greenhouse gas pollution.

Governments worldwide are striving to achieve net zero, with policies like phasing out coal-fired power stations in favor of pollution-free renewable energy, providing tax breaks and credits for electric vehicle purchases, and improving recycling networks.

But we can all do little things to help, too. One of those is to educate ourselves about climate issues and to understand what specific terms like net zero mean, which can also help when we talk to friends and family about what we can do to help ensure the planet’s health.

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