Opening Pandora’s Box: Classifying CO2 as a “Pollutant”

A few days before "Earth Day" (which happens to be the same day as Lenin’s Birthday), America’s ideological greens and reds received a present they have been desiring for many moons: The Environmental Protection Agency—egged on by the U.S. Supreme Court—officially designated carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant. That means that either congress or the EPA is expected to produce a plan for regulating this common gas.

So opens a new chapter in regulatory absurdity, a veritable Pandora’s Box of complications.

A generation ago, it was considered great progress against pollution when catalytic converters were added to automobile engines to change poisonous carbon monoxide to benign carbon dioxide. Now, CO2 has been demonized.

The EPA’s characterization of CO2 as a pollutant brings into question the natural order of things. By the EPA’s logic, either God or Mother Nature (whichever creator you believe in) seriously goofed. After all, CO2 is the base of our food chain. CO2 nourishes plants, plants nourish animals and humans, and plants and animals serve a variety of human needs. “Pollutants” are supposed to be harmful to life, not helpful to it, aren’t they?

Of course, it is true (although greens often ignore it when trying to ban such useful chemicals as pesticides, insecticides, Alar, PCBs, etc.) that “the dose makes the poison.” Too much oxygen, for example, poses danger to human life. So, what is the “right” concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere? There is no right answer to this question. The concentration of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere fluctuated greatly long before humans appeared on earth, and that concentration has fluctuated since then, too.

The current concentration is approximately 385 parts per million. Some scientists maintain that 1,000 parts per million would provide an ideal atmosphere for plant life, accelerating plant growth and multiplying yields, thereby sustaining far more animal and human life than is currently possible. Whatever standard the EPA selects will be purely arbitrary.

“Forget about the plants, Hendrickson,” say the greens. “What we’re trying to control is how warm the earth’s atmosphere gets.” To which I reply, “With all due respect, are you kidding me?”

As with a “right” concentration of CO2, what is the “right” average global temperature? For 7,000 of the last 10,000 years, the earth was cooler than it is now; mankind prospers more in warm climates than cold climates; and the Antarctic icecap was significantly larger during the warmer mid-Holocene period than it is today. Are you sure warmer is bad or wrong?

And how do you propose to regulate the earth’s temperature when as much as 3/4 of the variability is due to variations in solar activity, with the remaining 1/4 due to changes in the earth’s orbit, axis, and albedo (reflectivity)? This truly is “mission impossible.” Mankind can no more regulate earth’s temperature than the tides.

Even if the “greenhouse effect” were greater than it actually is, the EPA and Congress would be powerless to alter it for several reasons:

1. Human activity (according to NASA data) accounts for less than 4 percent of global CO2 emissions.

2. CO2 itself accounts for only 10 or 20 percent of the greenhouse effect. (This discloses the capricious nature of EPA’s decision to classify CO2 as a pollutant, for if CO2 is a pollutant because it is a greenhouse gas, then the most common greenhouse gas of all—water vapor, which accounts for almost 3/4 of the atmosphere’s greenhouse effect—should be regulated, too. The EPA isn’t going after water vapor, of course, because then everyone would realize how absurd climate-control regulation really is.)

3. Even if Americans were to eliminate their CO2 emissions completely, total human emissions of CO2 would still increase as billions of people around the world continue to develop economically.

Clearly, it is beyond the ken of mortals to answer the meta-questions about the right concentration of CO2, or the optimal global average temperature, or to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere. I feel sorry for the professionals at EPA who are now expected to come up with answers for these unanswerable questions.

However, I do not feel sorry for the political appointees, like climate czar Carol Browner, and the whole Al Gore, left-wing political fraternity, because it looks like they are about to get what they want—the power to increase their power over Americans’ lives and pocketbooks via CO2 emission regulations.

The big questions facing us regular citizens is whether Congress or the unelected folks at EPA will decide questions like:

— Who will be forced to drive and fly less often? (If we quit using every gasoline-powered vehicle in the country, we still wouldn’t reduce CO2 emissions as much as Al Gore wants.)

— How much economic pain should be imposed on Americans for heating and cooling their homes? (Your 75-percent-higher electric bill will fund President Obama’s “green jobs” machine.)

— Which businesses will need to move offshore to power their operations at a competitive cost? (This is nothing new. EPA regulations started to off-shore oil-refinery jobs decades ago.)

The impact of CO2 regulations will hurt us far more than CO2 itself ever could. We need a miracle, folks. Let’s hope that someone nails shut the lid on this Pandora’s Box before it swings wide open and infests us with a multitude of plagues.

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  • Mary Kochan

    I’m sure they will get around to regulating water vapor. All they have to do is convince the public of the grave dangers of hydrogen oxide or dihydrogen monoxide (sounds even scarier) pollution.

  • Kathryn

    Actually, dihydrogen monoxide is one of the more deadly chemicals out there–hundred die annual from it–and very powerful solvent. Come to think of it, Oxygen is a pretty nasty chemical too.

    I wonder how many people realize that “dry ice” is frozen CO2. And that they breathe out CO2. The reason why plants that are talked to on a regular basis look just a little better than the ones simply stuck in the window and ignored is because when you talk to the plants, they are getting a CO2 boost–something which all plants appreciate.

    I can’t understand why the “greens” don’t love it all the CO2 out there. It’s good for the trees.

  • Joe DeVet

    The whole “climate change” spectacle unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck, and one watches in rapt horror and helplessness as car after car of right reason gets derailed in turn.

    The whole wreck began 30 or so years ago with breathless reports that the “science” was showing a new ICE AGE coming upon us. It was scary, but as time went on this story took its place alongside the many environmental scares and hoaxes that have been visited upon us (some of which are included in the article.) One wonders when the people will wake up and ask questions, like what exactly was the Alar scare based upon, which had us all up in arms and then disappeared without a trace? Or whatever happened to the global cooling scare which terrified us all in the 1970’s? Or what became of the mass deaths from starvation, scarcity, and environmental disaster that the Club of Rome predicted back in the 1970’s would take place in the decade we now live in?

    We now learn that the “2500 scientists” who supposedly author the UN climate reports don’t all sign onto the report summaries, which drive the media accounts. This because the final reports are done by the POLITICAL editors, who pick and choose from varied climate models the data which support the political agenda they want to pursue. We learn that there are thousands of scientists who disbelieve the scary climate predictions, but their dissent is not reported. We watch as the UN scales down their dire predictions, but the scaled-down predictions (e.g., lower predicted rises in sea levels) are headlined by the media as if they were new and more dire revelations.

    One feels as if one fell down a dark rabbit-hole and woke up in Wonderland. What is true is what the Queen of Hearts says is so.

  • As a Catholic and Father to ten children I am gravely concerned that those who promote that man is causing climate-to-change agenda are gravely misled. Their agenda, it is clear to me, is one about reducing the world’s population and not at all all about science. The facts in this debate are now said to have been decided and that man is altering the climate. When thoughtful scientists refute this notion with valid data, they are not considered.

    And with every fiber of my being I know that the agenda promoting human-caused climate change and specifically carbon dioxide is a red herring designed to bring about social changes in our society that would look towards reducing the world’s population. When God said to be fruitful and multiply and our Church teaches us to be open to as many children as possible, He means it.

    For more information on what many of the world’s scientists believe about this I encourage to read the information at this website.

    There you will find a lot of information and more than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition which states:

    “We urge the United State government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997 and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

    There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produces many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

  • The actual motivation behind the global warming scare is power, pure and simple. If one can demand that energy production be reduced, one can, in essence, demand that the poor die earlier and more frequently.

  • guitarmom

    Now that CO2 has been declared a pollutant, the government will be able to regulate anything that produces CO2. What a “lovely” way to institute population control mechanisms through the back door.