Guest post by Steve Goreham, Climate Science Coalition of America
In an address to Green Mountain College on May 15, Carol Browner, Director of Energy and Climate Change Policy, stated “The sooner the U.S. puts a cap on our dangerous carbon pollution, the sooner we can create a new generation of clean energy jobs here in America…” In July, 2009, President Obama lauded the “Cash for Clunkers” program, stating that the initiative “gives consumers a break, reduces dangerous carbon pollution, and our dependence on foreign oil…”
Unfortunately, our President is misinformed about carbon pollution.
The phrase “dangerous carbon pollution” has become standard propaganda from environmental groups.
An example is a May, 2010 press release from the World Wildlife Fund that called for “a science-based limit on dangerous carbon pollution that will send a strong signal to the private sector.” Environmentalists have successfully painted a picture of black particle emissions into the atmosphere. This misconception is being used to drive efforts for Cap & Trade legislation, renewable energy, and every sort of restriction on our light bulbs, vehicles, and houses—all in the misguided attempt to stop climate change.
Carbon is integral to our skin, our muscles, our bones, and throughout the body of each person. Carbon forms more than 20% of the human body by weight. We are full of this “dangerous carbon pollution” by natural metabolic processes.
It’s true that incomplete combustion emits carbon particles that can cause smoke and smog. But this particulate carbon pollution is well controlled by the Clean Air Act of 1970 and many other federal and state statutes.
According to Environmental Protection Agency data, U.S. air quality today is significantly better than it was in 1980. Since 1980, airborne concentration of carbon monoxide is down 79%, lead is down 92%, nitrogen dioxide is down 46%, ozone is down 25%, and sulfur dioxide is down 71%. Carbon particulates have been tracked for fewer years, but PM10 particulates are down 31% since 1990 and PM2.5 particulates are down 19% since 2000. Over the same period, electricity consumption from coal-fired power plants rose 72% and vehicle miles driven are up 91%. We do not need Cap & Trade, Renewable Portfolio Standards, or the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), to reduce carbon particulates.
Climatism! Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic, Figure 78, data from EPA, 2006
The target of “dirty carbon pollution” propaganda is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is an invisible, odorless, harmless gas. It does not cause smog or smoke. Humans breathe out 100 times the CO2 we breathe in, created as our body uses sugars. But since it’s tough to call an invisible gas “dirty,” Climatists use “carbon” instead. It’s as wrong as calling water “hydrogen” or salt “chlorine.” Compounds have totally different properties than their composing elements.
Not only is carbon dioxide not a pollutant, it’s essential for life. As pointed out by geologist Leighton Steward, carbon dioxide is green! Carbon dioxide is plant food. Increased atmospheric CO2 causes plants and trees to grow faster and larger, increase their root systems, and improve their resistance to drought, as documented by hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers. Carbon dioxide is the best compound that mankind could put into the atmosphere to grow the biosphere.
This “carbon pollution” nonsense is driven by Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. In a debate at the Global Warming Forum at Purdue University on September 27, Dr. Susan Avery, President of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was asked “What is the strongest empirical evidence that global warming is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions rather than natural causes?” Neither Dr. Avery nor Dr. Robert Socolow of Princeton, who also presented, could provide an answer, except the ambiguous “There is lots of evidence.” In fact, Climatism is based largely on computer model projections. There is no empirical evidence that man-made greenhouse gases are the primary cause of global warming. According to Dr. Frederick Seitz, past President of the National Academy of Sciences, “Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful.”
As Joanne Nova, Australian author, points out: “Everything on your dinner table—the meat, cheese, salad, bread, and soft drink—requires carbon dioxide to be there. For those of you who believe carbon dioxide is a pollutant, we have a special diet: water and salt.” So the next time you drink a beer or eat a meal, beware of that “dangerous carbon pollution.”
Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of Climatism! Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic.