Utah conservative falsely asserts: “Greenhouse gas emissions have absolutely nothing whatever to do with clean air. CO2 does not add to pollutants or cause asthma or any of the other things you think of with dirty air. “
One of the classic signs of anti-science syndrome is repeated asserting that because CO2 is needed for life, vast increases of CO2 must perforce be vastly good for life (see Rep. Shimkus: Cutting CO2 emissions is “Taking away plant food from the atmosphere”).
In fact, lots of things are needed for life that are fatal in high doses or amounts. Iron and water come to mind.
Another classic sign of ASS is denying that too much CO2 is harmful to life. This sometimes gets taken to its ASSinine extremes (see House GOP leader Boehner on ABC: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical”).
Let’s look at the many anti-science symptoms manifested by Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), courtesy of Think Progress.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, under the stipulations in the Clean Air Act. Last month, the EPA announced that it would phase-in the regulation over several years, starting with the largest sources of emissions. Many “” mostly Republican “” state legislators have recently introduced measures to block or limit the EPA’s authority to regulate the gases.
Reporting on the state action today on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly went a bit overboard…. Taking the discussion a bit further into right field, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) actually argued that greenhouse gases are helpful:
KELLY: Back in 2007 the United States Supreme Court basically issued a decision saying it was ok for the EPA to start putting its nose into other peoples’ business in this way if it so desired. [...]
BENNETT: Greenhouse gas emissions have absolutely nothing whatever to do with clean air. CO2 does not add to pollutants or cause asthma or any of the other things you think of with dirty air. CO2 is actually a nutrient for plants and helps some parts of the continents grow more and have greater vegetation.
None of this is a terribly big shock, given where Bennett is from (see “Utah: Still the right wing place“). But it remains important to rebut these conservative talking points.
Of course, right now, GHGs have a lot to do with dirty air, since we generate most of our dirty air with the same fossil fuels that cause GHGs. And the hotter it gets, he worst urban air pollution and ashthma incidents are going to get.
Of course the Court didn’t rule that the EPA could “start putting its nose into other peoples’ business” whenever it wants. The decisions specifically stated that the agency is legally required to regulate CO2. And in fact, the auto industry has actually applauded the EPA’s move to regulate car emissions. Apparently they don’t feel the mandate means “the cost of nearly everything in America” will increase, as Kelly claimed.
And Bennett’s claim “” one that climate change deniers regularly make to prevent action on climate change “” is simply wrong. In fact, new scientific research out this month “found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations”¦cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone as well as particles in urban air.”
Since conservatives are working hard to blow smoke in our eyes on this issue, I’ll examine some of the recent science of how CO2 and higher temperatures are directly harmful to human life in future posts.
- The Lancet medical journal: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions has major direct health benefits
- NRC: Burning fossil fuels costs the U.S. $120 billion a year “” not counting mercury or climate impacts!
- Global Warming Is A Medical Emergency”: Hellish heatwaves to harm health of millions
- Climate change helps spread dengue fever in 28 states
- Climate change endangers human health
- Chinese birth defects “up sharply”
- If you want smarter kids, shut coal plants