OK, I have to admit. After years and years of being told by everyone and their uncle that greenhouse gases were bad for us, bad for the environment, and bad for Earth, my reaction to CO2 was a spontaneous knee-jerk reaction that would have made my dad proud. I was such a bright green girl that I was almost florescent, so luminous was my piety. I even felt guilty of drinking sodas because, you know, it’s full of that boogie-man gas, CO2, which is the same gas that bad, bad industries such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola pump into their products and sell to unsuspecting consumers like me.
And to think, I used to love carbonated drinks. Root Beer was always my favorite, but once I heard how bad CO2 was, I tried to wean myself off that CO2-laced beverage.
Imagine my surprise when I read about CO2 from some prominent scientists:
“CO2 is not a pollutant. In simple terms, CO2 is plant food. The green world we see around us would disappear if not for atmospheric CO2. These plants largely evolved at a time when the atmospheric CO2 concentration was many times what it is today. Indeed, numerous studies indicate the present biosphere is being invigorated by the human-induced rise of CO2. In and of itself, therefore, the increasing concentration of CO2 does not pose a toxic risk to the planet.” – John R. Christy, Ph.D. Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alabama
“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but a naturally occurring, beneficial trace gas in the atmosphere. For the past few million years, the Earth has existed in a state of relative carbon dioxide starvation compared with earlier periods. There is no empirical evidence that levels double or even triple those of today will be harmful, climatically or otherwise. As a vital element in plant photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is the basis of the planetary food chain – literally the staff of life. Its increase in the atmosphere leads mainly to the greening of the planet. To label carbon dioxide a “pollutant” is an abuse of language, logic and science.” – Robert M. Carter, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental and Earth Sciences, James Cook University
“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. On the contrary, it makes crops and forests grow faster. Economic analysis has demonstrated that more CO2 and a warmer climate will raise GNP and therefore average income. It’s axiomatic that bureaucracies always want to expand their scope of operations. This is especially true of EPA, which is primarily a regulatory agency. As air and water pollution disappear as prime issues, as acid rain and stratospheric-ozone depletion fade from public view, climate change seems like the best growth area for regulators. It has the additional glamour of being international and therefore appeals to those who favor world governance over national sovereignty. Therefore, labeling carbon dioxide, the product of fossil-fuel burning, as a pollutant has a high priority for EPA as a first step in that direction.” – S. Fred Singer, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
“To state in public that carbon dioxide is a pollutant is a public advertisement of a lack of basic school child science. Pollution kills, carbon dioxide leads to the thriving of life on Earth and increased biodiversity. Carbon dioxide is actually plant food.” – Ian R. Plimer, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne
“Carbon and CO2 (carbon dioxide) are fundamental for all life on Earth. CO2 is a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas. CO2 is product of our breathing, and is used in numerous common applications like fire extinguishers, baking soda, carbonated drinks, life jackets, cooling agent, etc. Plants’ photosynthesis consume CO2 from the air when the plants make their carbohydrates, which bring the CO2 back to the air again when the plants rot or are being burned.” – Tom V. Segalstad, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Geology, University of Oslo
“To suddenly label CO2 as a “pollutant” is a disservice to a gas that has played an enormous role in the development and sustainability of all life on this wonderful Earth. Mother Earth has clearly ruled that CO2 is not a pollutant.” – Robert C. Balling Jr., Ph.D. Professor of Climatology, Arizona State University
“C02 is not a pollutant as Gore infers. It is, in fact essential to life on the planet. Without it there are no plants, therefore no oxygen and no life. At 385 ppm current levels the plants are undernourished. The geologic evidence shows an average level of 1000 ppm over 600 million years. Research shows plants function most efficiently at 1000-2000 ppm. Commercial greenhouses use the information and are pumping C02 to these levels and achieve four times the yield with educed water use. At 200 ppm, the plants suffer seriously and at 150 ppm, they begin to die. So if Gore achieves his goal of reducing C02 he will destroy the planet.” – Tim F. Ball, Ph.D. Climatology
“Many chemicals are absolutely necessary for humans to live, for instance oxygen. Just as necessary, human metabolism produces by-products that are exhaled, like carbon dioxide and water vapor. So, the production of carbon dioxide is necessary, on the most basic level, for humans to survive. The carbon dioxide that is emitted as part of a wide variety of natural processes is, in turn, necessary for vegetation to live. It turns out that most vegetation is somewhat ‘starved’ for carbon dioxide, as experiments have shown that a wide variety of plants grow faster, and are more drought tolerant, in the presence of doubled carbon dioxide concentrations. Fertilization of the global atmosphere with the extra CO2 that mankind’s activities have emitted in the last century is believed to have helped increase agricultural productivity. In short, carbon dioxide is a natural part of our environment, necessary for life, both as ‘food’ and as a by-product.” – Roy Spencer, Ph.D. Meteorology, Former Senior Scientist for Climate Studies, NASA
“I am at a loss to understand why anyone would regard carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide, a natural gas produced by human respiration, is a plant nutrient that is beneficial both for people and for the natural environment. It promotes plant growth and reforestation. Faster-growing trees mean lower housing costs for consumers and more habitat for wild species. Higher agricultural yields from carbon dioxide fertilization will result in lower food prices and will facilitate conservation by limiting the need to convert wild areas to arable land.” – David Deming, Ph.D. Professor of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma
“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a colorless, odorless trace gas that actually sustains life on this planet. Consider the simple dynamics of human energy acquisition, which occurs daily across the globe. We eat plants directly, or we consume animals that have fed upon plants, to obtain the energy we need. But where do plants get their energy? Plants produce their own energy during a process called photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to combine water and carbon dioxide into sugars for supporting overall growth and development. Hence, CO2 is the primary raw material that plants depend upon for their existence. Because plants reside beneath animals (including humans) on the food chain, their healthy existence ultimately determines our own. Carbon dioxide can hardly be labeled a pollutant, for it is the basic substrate that allows life to persist on Earth.” – Keith E. Idso, Ph.D. Botany
“To classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant is thus nothing short of scientific chicanery, for reasons that have nothing to do with science, but based purely on the pseudo-science so eagerly practiced by academia across the world in order to keep their funding sources open to the governmental decrees, which are in turn based on totally false IPCC dogma (yes, dogma – not science).” – Hans Schreuder, Analytical Chemist
“Atmospheric CO2 is required for life by both plants and animals. It is the sole source of carbon in all of the protein, carbohydrate, fat, and other organic molecules of which living things are constructed. Plants extract carbon from atmospheric CO2 and are thereby fertilized. Animals obtain their carbon from plants. Without atmospheric CO2, none of the life we see on Earth would exist. Water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide are the three most important substances that make life possible. They are surely not environmental pollutants.” – Arthur B. Robinson, Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry
In light of this ‘new discovery’ of the benefits of CO2 by all these prominent scientists, I feel such overwhelming relief and joy that I just ran out and bought two cases of root beer.
Excuse me while I boogie-on-down with my boogie-man gas.
21 thoughts on “Boogie-man Gas”
I remember the first time I was working on a combined heat and power project and was asked to compile an inventory of CO2 emissions. I thought surely it was a typo. I thought they must have meant CO, which is toxic and the result of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons and not altogether benign in the atmosphere, but nope, they wanted to know about CO2… And of course, there’s no remediation technologies you could deploy on the exhaust of a small combustion turbine, except, perhaps, for healthy forests and fields of wheat and asparagus…
That is extremely interesting Michael. May I ask, what was your field of work and how did it related to CO2 identification? What are your thoughts on global climate change?
Pollutant? I’m glad you found these quotes all in one place, as science thrives when dissension in present and becomes complacent when it stops challenging itself.
So, be sure to make yourself a root beer float. That is, if you like to boogie with ice cream in your root beer.
LOL. OK, you got me. I was being lazy. I figured if that many scientists were all saying the same thing, there’s something to this side of the argument. I promise you I’ll dig around and find other arguments from other scientists and then post another article talking about the other side.
And just when I thought it was safe to drink root beer again…(sigh)
No ones right when everyone’s wrong. Knowing this, I just treat myself to whatever I want whenever I want. 😉
(sigh) As always, I love getting your point of view on things. They are refreshingly sane and very Taoist in spirit.
You sure you’re not a closet Taoist philosopher? 🙂
I’m taobabe. I rock four inch stiletto heels. Not so closeted, Me.
LOL. You’re one cool scientist.
I do have a request. May I write up an in-depth series of articles on your paper? I have been reading up on it, and it is really cool. Of course, you get all credits as well as the ability to make any and all corrections to the article. I am merely the reporter, reporting what I have gathered from you.
I was working as an engineer designing a small power plant when this came up. It is not uncommon for us to estimate annual fuel consumption and emissions from a facility, which is used by the plant owner’s to submit their application for an air permit.
As for climate change, I have swung a couple of different ways on this issue at various times. I think it is the type of issue that sucks us all in and chews up a whole lot of time on examination and analysis, while resisting a simple resolution. It offers the juicy threat of pending apocalypse, a flashpoint of an issue no reasonable citizen of Planet Earth could ignore, right? Yet it is so entangled with the many webs of our lives- from politics, social justice, and foreign policy to economic growth- that it resists a simple and obvious result.
I’ve come to the conclusion in my own life, and it may seem shortsighted or silly, that when these issues seem to require an action, even if or in spite of the fact that such an action may be required at the expense of my fellow man, that the issue has been framed incorrectly.
None of us are truly afraid of a few degrees of temperature. We are afraid of a total collapse of our sustaining ecosystems. We are afraid of annihilation. And particularly convinced it will be our fault. We are afraid of discovering we’ve been screwing up royally on this planet for the past several millennium. We are afraid, in short, of a pending and ultimate doom, at our own shortsighted hands, because we couldn’t come to terms with our inherent ignorance, or evil, or selfishness, or pride, or what have you.
Legislation on atmospheric gases will not correct our fundamental fears, and until we correct those, we will simply latch onto one of these types of scenarios after another, as we have been for some time.
So I guess my thought on global warming is this, I will endeavor to be as loving as I can be, as often as I can be it, and express what feels true within me, as often as I can bring myself to do so, and let the CO2 atoms fly where they will!
Before I respond to your thoughts, please allow me to state unequivocally, that this is what a Taoist would say. It’s amazing that I find Taoists everywhere I look. I think it is because everyone I meet is a reflection of myself, and therefore, I see Taoists everywhere I go. 🙂
I think you have the correct attitude here. If there is only one thing that we can count on that could be the great equalizer, it would have to be Love. There is nothing beyond that. There is only Love, and the absence of Love.
Heh, I’m only as cool as you are, and that’s cool.
Sure, that sounds like fun! I’m really jazzed that you would want to spend time going through it in depth. And the credit is shared, no doubt. I am a consequence of all people, all scholars, all folks who have were me before and who are me now. I’ll report on your report so I close the circle either way.
We are all, truly, in profoundly good company… I am grateful to be discovering this… Which leads me to an interesting recognition: if the universe is going to barbecue us by way of an atmospheric sauna, it’s going to be roasting some seriously good product… Product isn’t the right word… But it makes me laugh, so I’m leavin’ it for now… I have no problem being farmed by the Tao… Michael
I don’t think you are going to have to worry about being in a sauna. I do think that it will be getting cooler, albeit, somewhat on the slow side.
As for the Tao’s farming abilities, you’d be interested to know that the Tao doesn’t really care about farming. In fact, it doesn’t care about much of anything. It doesn’t care whether you believe in its existence or not. It doesn’t care if you use it on purpose or not—and if you do use it on purpose, it doesn’t care how. It makes no judgement about any of this, and in fact, it makes no judgement about anything at all. You don’t need to pray to the Tao, or give it praise, or love, or devotion, because it wants nothing, needs nothing, and seeks nothing. It simply is. It exists in a way that allows itself to be used. It does this, allows this, and makes this possible by placing itself inside of everything. Therefore, everything is divine. You are divine, I am divine, and your stinky, noisy, cigar-smoking next door neighbour is also divine.
Welcome to godhood.
Thank you so much for the chance to dig through and read your thoughts on the matter. It will take some time, as I tend to collect moss (ie. kinda mentally on the slow side) when it comes to certain subjects. But I promise I will do my best to present it in the manner with which it deserves as I am a big fan of your writing.
Your root beer is a brief storehouse of CO2, extracted from the atmosphere to which it returns when you belch. Christy’s POV is sane. CO2 is now a tiny remnant of the superabundant resource that plants and plankton over-exploited! The O2 you breathe is able to exist and persist only in an atmosphere dominated by life. (It’s so reactive that it cannot be present as free molecules on a dead planet).
I do agree with the ‘trace gas’ idea, and that CO2 is not that abundant in the air as most folks think. I think there is more to global climate change than a single indicator is able to indicate.
As for the idea that oxygen cannot be present on a planet with no life, I will have to disagree with that. Scientists found Oxygen on Saturn’s rings. They said it wasn’t formed through living respiration but rather through a chemical reaction with the sun’s radiation and icy particles that comprise Saturn’s rings.
“It simply is.” For me this is the underlying connection between the Tao, and the Reality that Jesus describes in the particular set of words and symbols that I most enjoy reading (Course of Love) when seeking out a healthy reminder of our shared godhood. In that particular batch of words and symbols, Jesus suggests we learn to observe, respond to, and dwell within, “what is.”
Words can take me no farther. I am happy to be in the one club in which all that is, is included, the Club of What Is.
Rings are not similar to a planetary surface. In contact with rock and liquids, as opposed to space-born ice, O2 reacts and combines with numerous elements to form oxides. It vanishes from the atmosphere. Only if life processes are breaking down some of these compounds (as in photosynthesis) does its level get sustained and maintained.
More on the ‘scarcity’ of co2 from a plant’s point of view:::
From what I can gather, this link talks about the fingerprint of humans on the greening of the world by introducing more CO2 than what is readily available in nature, without humans. Am I reading it correctly?
Yes, that’s what I got out of it too…it DOESN”T seem to say the co2 we’re introducing is the main cause of global warming, and does provide accurate indication that plants seem to be thriving on the extra co2.
I had to laugh at your animation’s facial expression change as she was distressfully supplying more methane to the environment 🙂
You probably deserve some sleep! You seem to be going non-stop for more than a week!