Perhaps nothing rates as nutty as the idea now thoroughly adopted by so many that CO2 is a dangerous gas.

So lets have a quick review of what it will be like to have it treated as such. Carbon moves through the planetary system’s carbon cycle to the plant kingdom in one form only. Atmospheric CO2 gas. So the reduction of CO2 would of course require adaptation by plants, the food source of animals including people to lower productivity, reduced yields and poorer quality. Just what 5+ billion not so well fed humans need right now, right?

Almost all earth-sourced energy is moved in nature and by people as carbon compounds in foods or fuels. Plants take up CO2 for the energy value, split some hydrogen out of water and the carbon from the CO2 to build the organic matter needed to form their structures. Plants need a constant and steady supply of CO2 to grow, some of which comes from animals who recombine the carbon with the O2 split off and discharged by plants. Those animals use plant materials for food and the O2 for metabolism and growth and then discharge CO2. But by no means can the animals keep up with plant demands, oxidation by fires and volcanic eruptions need to recycle planetary CO2 to keep it high enough to keep the plants alive and the earth a healthy place for people.

Bear in mind, the plants were here first and the (we) animals depend completely on plants for existence. Perhaps too many people are getting prepared foods to realize just how incredibly dangerous the CO2 campaign has become. And it might get much worse.

Bloomberg reported last week that the Democrat Candidate would classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant and exercise his executive power to regulate the gas within the Environmental Protection Agency under current law.

If anything is clear to sophisticated science observers is that the CO2 basis for global warming is suspect and void of hypothesis tested scientific investigation. Lots of science hypothesis is published, but the testing or proving side is yet to be complete by any means. Humanity may be about to embark on a grand test with reality at stake. Should the plant kingdom respond as reason would expect, food would get very dear indeed.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the law as enacted does permit the EPA to move on CO2 as authorized under the Clean Air Act. Innocent enough for the court, blame the Congress as describing CO2 as a dangerous gas may be the most foolhardy notion to seep into the thoughts of humanity. Lets all just stave our food producers, right? Then what?

The Republican Candidate isn’t quite so pandering to the loony science crowd. Instead, the preferred course of action is to get the matter back in Congress where it can be exposed and debated. That would at least get the advocates of CO2 and planetary destruction up where the tough questions could be asked. Some care on Congress’ part may trigger the opponents to destroying the planetary carbon cycle and nature’s role in it a forum to layout the facts. Running forward, making decisions on suppositions from studies untested, and believing in conclusions without evidence might just come to a halt.

Whew! But the sense of relief relies on Congress getting to work and doing a good job. That sense of relief didn’t last long.

The science community has labored under the shrill and dangerous activities of the global warming crowd for over a decade. With weapons such as labeling those who need the hypothesis tested as “deniers”, or withholding research funding to those who would test hypotheses or seek other more and better explanations for climate change, the whole science field operates under a politically correct cloud of restraint, withholding and reticence towards exploring the field of planetary climate to grasp the whole of the system.

Carbon dioxide is the power system of life on earth. So before we mess about with the system of the carbon cycle in completely artificial ways in hopes of controlling the climate of the whole planet lets try to keep the basic facts in mind and ask the pertinent questions.

By itself CO2 is a tiny part of the atmosphere, not particularly suited to holding radiant energy or heat anyway, compared to water vapor for example. The energy input to keep us more than just a few degrees above absolute zero is solar energy and little historical data exists to form a broad and accurate hypothesis on just what solar variations have what kind of effects.

Today the earth is warming from a cold period, not long ago in planetary terms ice was permanently in place as far south as the Ohio River putting most of North America and its food production under permafrost. To suggest CO2 alone is the cause smacks of fraud and allows foolishness to substitute for real science and learning.

A more factual worry is a slip of the planet into a cooling period that could kill billions of people from starvation. We better get fully informed with the best information possible tested and proven so humanity can act with responsible adaptation.

But regulating CO2 as a dangerous pollutant? Sorry, but that is so radical, such a folly filled extreme, and devoid of hard scientific evidence that the suggestions being made just sets off a few seconds of vertigo. I can hardly believe it has come so far!

I wonder about the motives. Is the global warming crowd so hateful of humanity that even such a thin idea as CO2 being the destroyer of the world sufficient to put everyone at risk? These things trouble me much more than CO2.

Why are so many so willing to level regulatory power to the destruction of life on a planetary scale? Something is wrong, very wrong and understanding that is a far more important question than regulating CO2.


6 Comments so far

  1. BenE on October 24, 2008 10:57 AM

    Obviously the regulations would not target CO2 as a vehicle for energy but only the excess dumping into the air of carbon that should stay in the ground.

    Carbon is not just about global warming. One of the reason to target carbon is that its extraction usually produces much more pollution than just the excess CO2 in the air, especially if it comes from dirty sources like coal or crude. Regulating carbon is an easy proxy for reducing all kinds of pollution.

    I’ll be the first one to say that the environmental movement often jumps on ideas that don’t make much sense such as promoting compact fluorescent bulbs or getting rid of plastic bags, things that probably have insignificant impacts on the environment and only confuse people as to what are the real issues. And I agree that the effect of regulating carbon is debatable. However your post doesn’t make any sense as it is based on false premises and straw man arguments. And it is better to err on the cautious side (try to keep the atmosphere as it is) when dealing with these kind of potential global risks where there seem to be large externalities and future costs that are unaccounted for. There is only one earth and thus no margin of safety for errors. We can’t just say” Oh well,we’ll try to do better with the next earth.

  2. Sam Wilson on October 24, 2008 2:56 PM

    Certainly, CO2 falls under a broader definition of “pollutant” than some chemicals. It is entirely nontoxic in anywhere near the concentrations that even the biggest pessimists predict. And, like the nitrogen and phosphate runoffs which are the bane of sea life advocates, CO2 is also quite essential to life just as you said.

    Obviously, it is a question of dosage and what is considered harm. There is a range of dosages that everyone would agree are benign, and in fact that range probably somewhat exceeds levels reached after the start of industrialization. There is wide disagreement among scientists who do believe in AGW what exactly is the cut-off point in terms of “safe” atmospheric concentrations. And obviously if warming does take place there are people who would benefit: residents of Patagonia, Canada, and Russia for example.

    I’m sure you know that, as the other poster said, you are manufacturing a straw man argument against carbon regulation. If we stop burning fossil fuel, whatever other problems this would cause humans, this will not interfere with the natural carbon cycle. In fact we have already put in place a pretty substantial “carbon buffer” against the ravages of oxygenation that should take at least a few centuries to get things back to pre-AGW levels. Plants need humans a whole lot less than humans need plants.

    I have to admit that, in the marketplace of ideas, I have never heard this particular “carbon regulation equals total Gaia death” hypothesis. My first thought was that you were just toying around with insincere rhetoric, especially the idea of appropriating environmental-type arguments. However I actually think that there is a pretty substantial kernel of truth buried in this argument. One could easily foresee a scenario when offset-driven carbon sequestration kicked so far into overdrive that it actually reduced atmospheric CO2 concentrations below what is required for plant life. And then we would actually be in the kind of jam you are describing. So it’s extremely important that any carbon legislation has a built in “kill switch” to shut off incentives whenever atmospheric carbon gets too low. Or we might end up sequestering ourselves out of a planet. But obviously, simply replacing fossil fuels with low-to-zero carbon energy could not logically lead to this result.

    I think that AGW deniers need to realize that public and expert opinion have moved the goal posts of this debate. There is a certain level of CO2 which would lead to GW, we just don’t have a very good idea of what level. If that level were defined very liberally, it would mean that we could burn alot more buried fuel. And of course, if we were then wrong and it turned out we should have been a bit more conservative, then it’s gonna get very hot. You’re a “carbon liberal” and I respect that, but I disagree.

  3. John on October 24, 2008 3:42 PM

    Real stupid question here. If your doomsday scenario where to pass, what’s stopping us from simply releasing CO2 from all those sequestered sites?

  4. Brian Westenhaus on October 26, 2008 2:12 PM

    Thanks! I see the desired point is taken, thoughtful assessment of CO2 as a “regulated pollutant.” Other than a proxy for regulating other effluents there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of causes to regulate CO2.

    As for me, I seek a human role that endlessly recycles carbon in the planetary system, as nature will set the free CO2 as needed. A goal to reduce fossil burning is desirable, but I’m certain that regulating CO2 is a disaster in the making as regulators trying to control a planetary system is at best idiot/arrogant, and at worst a way to trigger a huge calamity that can’t even be forecast today.

    Here’s some flesh for the straw man – who is going to write the regulations to achieve what point? There “ought to be a law” sounds good until the regulations come through. The law you wish for has a very poor likelihood of being the law you get.

  5. Al Fin on October 28, 2008 7:21 AM

    Brian, you are exactly right to be very worried about this example of severe government overreach. But it is the economy, not the biosphere, that is at risk. The biosphere will survive nicely because since the human portion of CO2 is such a small part of total CO2 turnover in the atmosphere, any regulations of CO2 will have negligible effect on atmospheric concentrations.

    Public opinion is irrelevant in terms of underlying science. The absurd unscientific belief of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming will go down in history as one of the most destructive “popular delusions and madness of crowds” in human history.

  6. Persoenlichkeit on February 21, 2012 9:05 AM

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