Spin Cycle: Carbon Dioxide Is NOT “Carbon Pollution”

Posted: August 13, 2015 by oldbrew in government, propaganda
Tags: ,

Spin doctor at work

Spin doctor at work

Cato at Liberty reports from the US on the myth of carbon dioxide as ‘carbon pollution’, when in fact it’s essential to life on Earth. What we really have is state-sponsored mind pollution.

The Spin Cycle is a reoccurring feature based upon just how much the latest weather or climate story, policy pronouncement, or simply poo-bah blather spins the truth. Statements are given a rating between 1-5 spin cycles, with less cycles meaning less spin.

President Obama is keen on calling carbon dioxide emitted from our nation’s fossil fuel-powered energy production, “carbon pollution.” For example, last week, when introducing EPA’s Clean Power Plan—new regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from the power plants that currently produce 67 percent of the country’s electricity—he used the term “carbon pollution” ten times. For example:

Right now, our power plants are the source of about a third of America’s carbon pollution. That’s more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes generate combined. That pollution contributes to climate change, which degrades the air our kids breathe. But there have never been federal limits on the amount of carbon that power plants can dump into the air. Think about that. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water – and we’re better off for it. But existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air. [emphasis added]

Clearly, he is trying to paint a picture for the American public whereby carbon dioxide emissions are thought of as dirty, noxious substances that invade the air we breathe and make us sick. Who wouldn’t support regulation to try to limit such a menace?

But, this is scientifically inaccurate and, no doubt, intentionally misleading. It reflects poorly on the president and on his scientific advisors.

First and foremost, carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is non-toxic to humans at concentrations below some tens of thousands of parts per million (ppm). The current carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is 400 ppm and even worst case projections by the end of the century only put the concentration at 800-1000ppm. This is still some 5-6 times below the government’s recommended exposure limits. No one breathing open, well-mixed air* has ever been sickened from breathing carbon dioxide—nor ever will be.

Secondly, far from being sickened, the planet’s plant life is invigorated by carbon dioxide—the more the merrier. High concentrations (~1,000ppm) of carbon dioxide are routinely used in commercial greenhouses to produce faster growing and more robust plants. Scientific studies have shown that as carbon dioxide concentrations rise, plants become more resilient to environmental stressors, more efficient in their use of water, and more productive. A recent estimate has pegged the economic contribution of human carbon dioxide emissions to date, acting via increased crop production, at $3.2 trillion over the past 50 years and estimates an additional $10 trillion by mid-century. Pretty good for a “harmful” pollutant.

Thirdly, referring to carbon dioxide as “carbon pollution” is just plain scientifically inaccurate.

A carbon dioxide molecule is made up of two atoms of oxygen and one atom of carbon. Under the president’s apparent logic, wouldn’t it be twice as apt to term carbon dioxide “oxygen pollution”? But, we think, everyone would agree that would be deeply misinformative. So, too, everyone should agree, is applying the term “carbon pollution.”

In fact, carbon pollution already exists—it is more commonly called “soot,” the tiny elemental carbon particles that result from incomplete combustion. Soot is black, dirty, and oily, and not only makes an environmental mess, but is also dangerous to breathe. It is just what you expect a “pollutant” to be. And, it is already highly regulated by the EPA. So Obama’s statement that “existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air” is factually incorrect.

And finally, the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants is part and parcel of the chemistry of combustion. It is not some sort of gas or particle that is produced as a result of impurities in the fuels and can be separated from the process—it IS the process. Adding heat to hydrocarbons, such as fossil fuels (like coal, natural gas, or oil) in the presence of oxygen starts a chemical reaction that releases more heat (in excess of what was original applied) along with carbon dioxide and water (CO2, and H2O)**. Consequently, the power plants that the President refers to as being able to “dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air” aren’t so much polluting as simply doing their job, the one that we ask of them—to produce the power that drives modern society and our way of life.

By calling carbon dioxide emissions “carbon pollution” President Obama and his EPA seek not to be scientifically accurate, but rather to sway public opinion in support of voluminous regulations aimed to restrict energy choice, not only here, but through his leadership aspirations, abroad (e.g., at the upcoming UN climate conference this December in Paris). For this, we award him 2.5 spin cycles—somewhere between Slightly Soiled and Normal Wash—in other words, the standard modus operandi of the federal government.

Full report: Spin Cycle: Carbon Dioxide Is NOT “Carbon Pollution” | Cato @ Liberty.

  1. Ray Tomes says:

    In New Zealand I hear people referring to CO2 as carbon pollution. I tell them, no, CO2 is plant food. I have been told that only fossil fuel CO2 is pollution whereas biological CO2 is OK. How do you tell the difference?

  2. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction News Blog and commented:
    Carbon pollution is a jackass term created by jackasses, who fail to understand they ‘pollute’ with every breath. No wonder we refer to alarmists as Chicken Licken’s.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Ray T: fossil fuel-sourced CO2 has NO radioactivity (C14) – in theory anyway – as it has all decayed away while it was in the ground for millions of years.

    The same can probably be said for CO2 from volcanoes.

    IIRC the EPA argument was that CO2 becomes a pollutant when the concentration in the atmosphere is above ‘X’ parts per million, ‘X’ being an arbitrary figure chosen by the EPA.

  4. In this country the propagandists also talk about “carbon emissions”. I guess the rot set in when the education system was dumbed down and chemistry became less important than media studies.

    I recall responding to a planning consultation and every time I met the term “carbon emissions” I put in the comment “is this diamond?” or “is this graphite?” or “is this charcoal?” or “is this graphene?” or “is this fullerene?”.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    It is properly called “lying” and ought to get 5 spin cycles as an outright lie.

  6. Gail Combs says:

    Plants ❤ CO2

    Women ❤

  7. Wayne Job says:

    Is this wishful thinking on your part Gail. Regards Wayne

    We seem to be drifting off-topic here – mod 😉

  8. Gail Combs says:

    Mod says “We seem to be drifting off-topic here”

    No no mod. I am just saying I could use LOTS, and LOTS of Carbon pollution as long as the lattice structure is the right type.

    Every time I hear ‘Carbon Pollution’ I immediately want to put a bumper sticker on my vehicle showing CARBON = DIAMONDS

    So maybe a better bumper sticker is Women love carbon surrounded by a circle of diamonds.

    The idea is to get carbon to equate to something positive and CO2 to equate to something positive.

  9. bwdave says:

    CO2. No one lives without it!

  10. Russ Wood says:

    This is nearly as bad as when the US Penn and Teller show got environmental activists to sign a petition against the growing use of Dihydrogen Monoxide!

  11. bwdave says:

    The sad truth is that the “CO2 = pollution” mischaracterization has become deeply imbedded in academic institutions, and has for decades been drummed into the minds of impressionable young students using a kind of “believe this or you’re stupid” approach in which peer pressure from those who see no need to question the “everyone believes CO2 causes global warming and that is bad” position, to ridicule anyone who questions it, Consequently, the brightest science minded students have been discouraged from contributing to the field,

    What’s worse is the popular belief that “renewables” can ever actually replace “fossil” and nuclear energy.

  12. Gail Combs says:

    What is incredible is that this major hoax has gone on for almost FIFTY YEARS!!! Especially when there is an incredible amount of data/papers showing that it is nothing but a hoax. The effect of this hoax is the eminent collapse of entire countries. The collapse of the first world countries will cause mass starvation through out the world if the econuts continue to get their way.

    Unfortunately this also means WAR and possibly nuclear war as the balance of power tips to the east. China and Russia will have no problem using either North Korea or Iraq to attack the USA and the EU if they think the first world countries are sufficiently weak.

    You can thank Bill Clinton and Al Gore for INTENTIONALLY emasculating the USA and causing the 2008 economic depression.

    Discussion of the politics with multiple links HERE.

    Well.well. well. This is interesting. A very good paper on ‘Economic Interdependence and War’ just got yanked off the internet in the last month or so.
    Thank goodness for the wayback machine.

    Dale C. Copeland, “Economic Interdependence and War: A Theory of Trade Expectations,” International Security, Vol. 20, no.4 (Spring 1996)

    This very important paper explains the theory of ‘Interdependence’ that Bill Clinton is basing his bet on when he sold the USA to China. Unfortunately Clinton forgot China hates our guts.

  13. Gail Combs says:

    More on China:
    HERE and <a href="https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/saudi-are-in-in-yemen/#comment-61497"HERE and HERE (Also check out my comment on Tony Blair and Gadhafi’s plan to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. dollars and demanding payment instead in gold-backed “dinars” @ March 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm in the same thread.)