WSJ op-ed by Schmitt and Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide

 ‘The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science’ – Dr. William Happer:

The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.


WSJ.COM 5/8/13: Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That’s simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.

The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA’s and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been—and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As many scientists have pointed out, variations in global temperature correlate much better with solar activity and with complicated cycles of the oceans and atmosphere. There isn’t the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather.

The current levels of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, approaching 400 parts per million, are low by the standards of geological and plant evolutionary history. Levels were 3,000 ppm, or more, until the Paleogene period (beginning about 65 million years ago). For most plants, and for the animals and humans that use them, more carbon dioxide, far from being a “pollutant” in need of reduction, would be a benefit. This is already widely recognized by operators of commercial greenhouses, who artificially increase the carbon dioxide levels to 1,000 ppm or more to improve the growth and quality of their plants.

Full essay here:

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May 9, 2013 5:34 am

Imagine having to tell an ancestors from the 19th century all of human progress has resulted in global wars against …molecules, either gaseous (CO2) or solid (drugs).

May 9, 2013 5:45 am

It’s not a belief, it’s a paranoid delusion. Beliefs cannot be checked against facts.

May 9, 2013 5:52 am

Politicos in order to continue pandering to their base of parasites are looking for further ways to finance the drive to buy the votes of the parasites – hence this is yet another attempt their hands deeper into the wallets of productive people.

May 9, 2013 5:53 am

Gleick’s getting all upset about this on Twitter.
And he’s still complaining the WSJ didn’t publish his letter in 2010, signed by 255 scientists, of which he was the lead signer and letter-organizer. I notice this issue still bugs him, because he also did a blog post about this letter not being published – in March 2013.
You might also remember Gleick got very upset about the WSJ publishing a skeptic letter signed by 16, including Harrison Schmidt (the moon walker and former senator who is also affiliated with Heartland, and was on the Heartland board – I’m not sure if he still is) – just before Gleick decided to initiate his impersonation of a Heartland board member.

May 9, 2013 6:07 am

After reading the full article, it is amazing to me how well we understand the role of Co2 in plant growth. The contrast to our lack of understanding its role in climate is striking. Bottom line- want to see some REAL science, read the article.

Frank K.
May 9, 2013 6:15 am

Safe Prediction of the Day:
The Climate Rapid Response Team ™ is preparing a vigorous response to these “flat earthers” and “neanderthals”…

Greg Goodman
May 9, 2013 6:28 am

Carbon-dioxide is as essential to life on Earth as oxygen alone.
Most animals eat plants in one way or another, that don’t eat those that do.
A carbon tax, be it direct or some part of a crap and trade scheme [sic] is a TAX on life itself.

Greg Goodman
May 9, 2013 6:32 am

Carbon-dioxide is as essential to life on Earth as oxygen alone.
Most animals eat plants in one way or another. Those that don’t, eat those that do.

May 9, 2013 6:40 am

omnologos writes: “Imagine having to tell an ancestors from the 19th century all of human progress has resulted in global wars against …molecules, either gaseous (CO2) or solid (drugs).”
Bravo. How foolish we are as a race. Big brains, yet small minds.

May 9, 2013 6:42 am

Considering that there is evidence of CO2levels comfortably in excess of 400ppmv during the 1940s, after which they fell right back to pre-war levels, doesn’t help the residence argument either. Pump more out I say, the planet needs more warmth and plants need more help in feeding the impoverished masses (in the UK mainly).

Don Bennett
May 9, 2013 6:47 am

For an exhaustive treatment of the roll of CO2 on plant growth go over to and check out their data base of studies. I’ve read their summary of research results over the years and it is truly amazing what good the increased atmospheric levels of CO2 will do for the biosphere.

Russell Johnson
May 9, 2013 7:08 am

Amazing, claiming to be an environmentalist while railing against the evils of CO2. Actually claiming to be green while demonizing the very compound that promotes a lush green Earth.
I smell a putrid agenda……………………

May 9, 2013 7:26 am

Hmmm. Not expecting to be published but giving it a shot, I sent an op-ed to the NYT, and was turned down–or if you prefer rejected–but so are 90-95% of submissions. Looks like I should try the WSJ.

John C
May 9, 2013 7:37 am

Anyone think demonizing C02 was decided on based on the fact it is all but impossible to control? What better way to control the population of the world than tax and limit everything with a naturally occurring gas. I know this sounds conspiratorial but with all the science showing CO2 as a very minor driver of climate, and potential benefits of more CO2, the “smart” people still push their agenda. Why?

May 9, 2013 8:02 am

Another example of a succinct article which reinforces rudimentary botanical principles – a good information source for those who remain uninitiated.
It’s very reassuring that, with increased press exposure, perhaps the overly-melodramatic beliefs of those still gullible enough to believe in the CO2 scam will change. Probably having far more impact and mostly ignored by the MSM up to now, the time is right for scientists to publish a comprehensive report which lists all the ways we add unnatural man-made CO2 into the atmosphere. Most people, for example, would be fascinated by the fact that if you isolated just the global production of decaffeinated coffee alone, they would be shocked to discover that billions of steamed coffee beans need to fall through 100 foot tall holding vats of highly pressurised CO2 @ 150 psi. The CO2 is entirely manufactured by man and stored in pressurised canisters for this purpose.
If published, the list should ignore the 96.775% of naturally occurring CO2 produced through all types of respiration, photosynthesis, volcanic eruptions, decomposition, etc. If nothing else, this list would demonstrate that our totally insignificant 3.225% contribution of atmospheric CO2 is not just created by burning fossil fuels.
So let’s get started with beverages. . . . The world’s Brewing Industry (incl. Beer dispensing), All Wine & Champagne Production, oh yes, and the mass global production of all Carbonated Drinks.
Perhaps, WUWT readers could add to the list . . . . Including bread, cakes, snack foods, biscuits, dry ice, CO2 pellets used in sand-blasting, coolant gas in welding & fabrication, laser cutting, propellants (extinguishers, aircraft exit slides, life jackets, air bags, etc.), controlling Ph of water, lime scale removal, denture cleaning products, etc.
Sincere apologies to regular readers who have seen me flag this topic up on older posts. Have fun.

May 9, 2013 8:23 am

Indisputably higher CO2 increases agricultural yield, an important consideration for a world whose population is expected to double in the first 50 years of this century. But will CO2 raise temperatures globally? It is beginning to look doubtful. This is unfortunate, because a warmer world is a better world with milder winters and higher levels of humidity. A warmer world also increases food production through a longer growing season, more arable land, and increased yields. CO2 is all benefit for this planet, and no liability.

May 9, 2013 8:25 am

On my own blog I once nominated the CO2 molecule for the Nobel Peace Prize…

May 9, 2013 9:01 am

@ Bob Tisdale says:
May 9, 2013 at 7:26 am
You might be great shakes in this neck of the wood, but you are not Harrison Schmitt or William Happer.
That’s a different league.

May 9, 2013 9:03 am

Fell out of my chair.
@ Gore Lied says:
May 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

May 9, 2013 9:09 am

Global population will likely rise from 7 bil today to 9 bil max around 2050. The UN is supporting a population max of 10 billion. Again, it’s models vs. predictions based on empirical observations. Empirical observations actually support a max of less than 9 bil.
With models, as we have seen, it’s all about the assumptions. For the UN, they get more money if the number is higher. You have to look at the incentives.

Chad Wozniak
May 9, 2013 9:59 am

C –
That’s the whole point – control over every detail of people’s lives. Ultimately, AGW was never really about climate – it was and is about a totalitarian power grab, and climate and the environment are the guilt trip its propagandists have been using to manipulate uninformed people into going along with that. This is being made clear right now by those alarmists who are saying it doesn’t matter whether AGW is real, they still intend to proceed with their agenda to dismantle the industrial world, destroy the middle class, kill off as much of the globe’s population as possible and create a regime in which a few kleptocrats own and control everything and the rest of us are slaves.
It’s not a coincidence that Obama pushes AGW while at the same time he conducts a broad assault on civil liberties – not just the Second but also the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. AGW and big government are just part of the same fascistic mentality.

Werner Brozek
May 9, 2013 3:20 pm

The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science
And as we know, according to several data sets, warming stopped at least 16 years ago. How many of these horrors can CO2 cause on its own without the initial condition of warming having taken place?
(On RSS, from December 1996 to April 2013, a period of 16 years and 5 months, the slope is -8.76223e-05 per year.

May 9, 2013 4:32 pm

Thanks, Dr. Scmidt, Dr. Happer; A very good article!
Yes, over the years The Wall Street Journal has published quite a few skeptic articles, I do think Bod Tisdale would have a better chance there.

Dr. Deanster
May 9, 2013 5:37 pm

You would think that people would realize just how beneficial CO2 and a warmer world are …. by observing the proxy … “Tree Rings”. As I understand it … the wider the ring [ie., the more wood produced] is thought to be associated with warmer temperature.
If the trees like it so much .. why should a bunch of control freaks get so bent out of shape about it.

May 9, 2013 6:00 pm

Warming or cooling aside.. If you had to pick the perfect emission to tax, what would it be?.
I find it more than a little suspicious that the perfect gas to tax is also the doom gas..
Such a splendid idea, thats been back filled with nothing but politics and greed from the day this global warming scam was born..
A blank canvas for the Lib-left to hate upon.. A communist Joe Plumber.. The ever present issue that never ever makes it onto a political platform..
Shame the information age has become the disinformation age..

Bob Diaz
May 9, 2013 7:02 pm

The air quality standard for inside building is up to 5,000 PPM (0.5% CO2) is OK. You will live in a room with 10,000 PPM (1% CO2), but people complain of headaches and feeling dizzy. So, 400 PPM is a LONG way from the 5,000 PPM standard.
It is interesting to notice that the alarmist response to improved plant growth is to say, “It only helps weeds!” Which amazing to think that all plants know if they are a weed or a useful plant AND chose to respond or not respond to increased CO2. ;-))

Lars P.
May 12, 2013 4:58 am

Don Bennett says:
May 9, 2013 at 6:47 am
For an exhaustive treatment of the roll of CO2 on plant growth go over to and check out their data base of studies. I’ve read their summary of research results over the years and it is truly amazing what good the increased atmospheric levels of CO2 will do for the biosphere.
Yes, very true. They have a comprehensive database where one can search per plants name and see by him/herself. Hundreds over hundreds of studies:
Of course CO2 benefits also the weeds, what the cultist say, as it benefits all plants. There are different ways of combating weeds, not through CO2 starvation.
As Freeman Dyson said – about 15% of the food produced today is due to the increased CO2 fertilization. This is food for 1 billion of people out of 7. Not without reason famine worldwide decreased even with increased population.
And also the greening of the planet measured by satellites.

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