Carbon dioxide deserves the same humanitarian clemency that President Trump has been dispensing to other wrongly accused or rehabilitated felons.
Included are recent pardons granted to Alice Marie Johnson who served more than two decades in prison for first-time cocaine charges, boxer Jack Johnson (posthumously), Maricopa County Arizona ex- Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Bush administration official Scooter Libby, and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza.
A truly inconvenient truth is that CO2 has gotten a bum rap for just about every climate crime and environmental disaster charge imaginable.
On a hunch, I checked to see if the catastrophic Kilauea volcano eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii might possibly be an exception. But no, it took only a couple of seconds to Google an article in the U.K. publication, Express, titled "Global warming to lead to more volcano eruptions, researchers warn."
It went on to explain that melting ice caps and glaciers that "help to maintain the structure of volcanos and mountains" will make them collapse.
To their credit, the researchers didn’t specifically attribute the Kilauea meltdown to any Hawaiian glacier meltdown. On the other hand, there was also no mention that highly publicized melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which has been going on for hundreds of years is likely influenced by an active volcano “ring of fire” on the ocean bed below.
Of course climate really does change. This began occurring long before the Industrial Revolution brought fossil-fueled smokestacks and internal combustion engines. In fact we might consider ourselves to be pretty lucky to be living at a time near the end of a likely brief 12,000 to15,000 year-long interglacial period in between 90,000-year-long ice ages when much of the planet is covered by glaciers up to miles in thickness and sea levels are about 400 feet lower.
And yes, current temperatures are "abnormally warm" . . . that is, comparing them with a more recent "Little Ice Age" which ended in the mid-19th century.
But they were at least as warm 2,000 years ago when Romans had good reason to wear cool togas and sandals. Conditions were just as warm again during the Medieval period about 1,000 years later.
It’s high time we recognize that carbon dioxide has been treated unfairly. The Armageddon catastrophe predicted by hypothetical climate models never arrived. Global temperatures haven’t risen precipitously – nor have oceans, or extreme weather trends either for that matter.
Despite rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, satellite records show that global temperatures have been flat for nearly two decades, modest seven-inch-per-century sea level increases haven’t accelerated, and the frequency of severe category three to five U.S. landfalling hurricanes is at a record 100-year low.
Also seldom mentioned are plant fertilization benefits of those gradually-rising CO2 levels. A global satellite study published in an April 2016 issue of the journal Nature reported "a persistent and widespread increase" of greening over 25 to 50 percent of the "global vegetated area" over the past 35 years since satellite records had then been available.
More CO2 is clearly better then less. Consider that today’s atmospheric concentration, about 400 parts per million, is actually very low compared with prehistoric times when those levels were between 1,000 to 2,000 parts per million, green foliage proliferated, and animal life flourished.
Not only have these good deeds of that wonderful molecule so essential to nourish the veggies that feed all of God’s creatures been broadly ignored, carbon dioxide has even come to be demonized as a "pollutant."
As the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia explained, "A pollutant is a subject that is harmful to human beings or to animals or to plants. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant."
Observing that Congress was not thinking about granting power to regulate carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases, he warned, " . . . now if the administrative agency can do that, I don’t know what an administrative agency cannot do."
There is reason for hope that CO2 and its fossil energy co-defendants may finally get a fair hearing in court after all. After San Francisco, Oakland, New York and Seattle sued five major oil companies for billions in future damages from climate change, presiding U.S. Northern District of California Judge William Alsup demanded evidence.
Judge Alsup said that if he is to consider harms caused by oil and gas, "We need to weigh the large benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. There have been huge benefits." Pointing out that since the federal government and states have encouraged fossil fuel production, he then asked, "If the nation is saying, 'please do it,' how can we hold them liable for that?"
Text in the U.N. Paris Climate Agreement declares that "climate justice" must include concern for “gender equality, empowerment of women, and intergenerational equality." Okay . . . great.
But while we’re at it, let’s also extend some of that long-overdue justice to CO2.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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