co2 enhanced greenhouseIt’s high time we recognize that carbon dioxide has been treated unfairly. Not only have the good deeds of this wonderful molecule so essential to nourish the plants that feed all of God’s creatures been ignored, it has even come to be demonized as an endangering pollutant and climate-ravaging menace. 

Seldom do we hear about the beneficial effects of adding more of that trace gas — of which 97% comes from natural, not man-made, sources.

Is CO2 a greenhouse gas? Sure, ask most greenhouse operators who use it to increase photosynthesis, causing bigger, faster plant growth. More CO2 is clearly better then less. 

Studies show that biological growth stops at between 110 to 180 ppm. Consider that today’s atmospheric concentration, about 400 parts per million, is actually very low compared with prehistoric times when levels were between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm and even much higher — conditions when green foliage proliferated and animal life flourished.

Yes, climate really does change. It began doing so long before the Industrial Revolution brought smokestacks and internal combustion engines. In fact we might consider ourselves pretty lucky to be alive during a warm and likely brief 12,000- to 15,000-year-long interglacial interlude bracketed by 90,000-year-long ice ages.

So it’s very true that current temperatures are “abnormally warm”; that is, compared with those ice ages which covered much of the planet with glaciers up to miles in thickness. 

They’re also lots warmer than during the 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. Conditions were similar during the Medieval warm period about 1,000 years later.

And incidentally, records show that warming periods cause atmospheric CO2 concentrations to increase — not the other way around. This is because oceans are huge CO2 sinks which absorb much more when they are cold, just as cold carbonated beverages do. The gas is released as temperature rises. No big surprise there at all.

As for extreme weather, there’s nothing new about that either. Eric the Red’s Icelandic Vikings raised livestock in grasslands on Greenland’s southwestern coast as recently as 1,000 years ago. Those Norse settlements were abandoned by about 1350 after temperatures dropped. Shortened growing seasons and extreme weather shifts, including torrential rains, led to Northern Europe’s “Great Famine” of 1315-1317.

Temperatures dropped dramatically again in the middle of the 16th Century. Food shortages killed millions more in Europe between 1690 and 1700, followed by moredarkagesdark famines in 1725 and 1816. The end of this time witnessed brutal winter temperatures suffered by Washington’s troops at Valley Forge in 1777-78, and Napoleon’s bitterly frigid retreat from Russia in 1812.

About half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred before the mid-1940s despite continuously rising CO2 levels since that time. Why then is only this more recent warming being attributed to increased atmospheric CO2 emissions?

Remember that really scary “hockey stick” graph which was endless hyped by the UN and Al Gore’s minions to show that evil human fossil-fueled emissions have put the world at tipping point crisis? Yet satellites show that despite those rising atmospheric CO2 levels, global temperatures have been flat now for 18 years, ever since before most of today’s high school students were born.

haProminent U.S. and Russian solar physicists predict that this warming “pause” may be the prelude to a very long cooling period correlated with low sunspot activity. Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov, who heads Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg, believes that a deep freeze will last until the end of this century “whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Nevertheless, a White House “Clean Power Plan” premised upon reducing “carbon pollution” aims to accomplish just such a cap. Coal-fired plant closures caused by draconian EPA restrictions will impose major electricity cost hikes. Heaviest burdens will fall upon economically disadvantaged residents of colder northern states.

There is nothing at all clean about such a plan. Demonizing a vital natural plant nutrient as pollution in order to so completely misguide the public is a dirty shame.

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  • Larry Bell

    CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."