Thursday, September 08, 2011


How Does One Fact Check Insanity?

Here's Warmie true believer Gernot Wagner today in The New York Times with a signed opinion piece about global warming.

Let's start with the scientific fact that there are no poisonous substances, only toxic levels of all substances. Plutonium, for example, can be deadly in tiny amounts, so can most nerve gasses and famous poisons like ricin and cyanide (although I've been exposed to cyanide gas and lived to tell the tale). Other things, like the necessary for terrestrial animal life oxygen, is beneficial at a certain concentration but deadly at a higher concentration. Likewise water, absolutely necessary to both plants and animals, can kill if too much is ingested (and we've all read the news stories of water drinking contests or stunts with tragic results).

Carbon dioxide is necessary for plant life and therefore necessary for animal life here on earth. Too much carbon dioxide, say, 10% concentration, can kill you and indeed most people who suffocate in a closed room or abandoned ice box die from too much carbon dioxide before they succumb to too little oxygen. 10% is 100,000 parts per million and right now our atmospheric concentration is 395 ppm so we're a long, long way from toxic concentrations.

Here is a definition of 'pollute': To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter. Despite the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court (Massachusetts v. EPA and more recently American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut) about CO2, at the current and foreseeable levels we should experience over the next 500 years or so, CO2 is not in any way a pollutant. Indeed, increased CO2 makes plants grow better so it's the opposite of a pollutant.

Now to Mr. Wagner opinion. So if the CO2 in the atmosphere makes plants grow more and has no effect on our general health because it is in a tiny, non toxic concentration, how is it a pollutant? Gernot says:

Leading scientific groups and most climate scientists say we need to decrease global annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least half of current levels by 2050 and much further by the end of the century. And that will still mean rising temperatures and sea levels for generations.

Ah, CO2 is bad because it causes global warming and global warming causes the sea levels to rise. Got it. Except the sea level is not rising now (even with a specious .3 mm/yr "correction" upwards), although the sea level always rises during an interglacial period, that's one way to know it is an interglacial period. Nor is it getting warmer recently, like during the past 13 years. See below.

His statement above is normal WTB stuff. But he actually quantifies the "damage" CO2 causes. I'm not kidding.

Every ton of carbon dioxide pollution causes around $20 of damage to economies, ecosystems and human health. That sum times 20 implies $400 worth of damage per American per year. That’s not damage you’re going to do in the distant future; that’s damage each of us is doing right now.

CO2 in .o38% concentration causes dollars of damage right now? Where? How? Sadly, the details of the "damage" and the calculation of the dollar amount is not part of the article.

Sad, really, I mean that.

He's calling for taxes on carbon saying, "High school science tells us that global warming is real." Show me some. He also is calling not paying a tax on carbon dioxide production socialism. That's not the definition I use. And regarding getting cap and trade or a carbon tax because of "real" global warming, good luck with that.

(h/t The Hockey Schtick for the image and quotes to the left)


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