Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crimes Against Life

By Wendell Krossa

Environmentalists, like NASA’s James Hansen, have claimed that people such as oil company executives are committing crimes against humanity and nature by promoting CO2emissions and should be tried. David Suzuki has similarly claimed that politicians “ignoring climate science” (i.e. refusing to act on his alarmist and extremist views of CO2 emissions) should be jailed.

Based on the actual science that we have regarding CO2, the situation ought to be reversed and it is these environmental extremists that should be charged with crimes against humanity and nature. But that would be falling prey to similar ridiculous extremism, wouldn’t it?

It is enough to expose the unprecedented irresponsibility of these alarmists for dumping such distorting information into the public arena. This is the most dangerous form of pollution occurring today- the polluting of human minds with the environmentalist distortion of good science. And this unfounded fear-mongering is having the damaging impact of slowing the human enterprise.

Environmental extremists have whipped up populations with fear over one of the greatest non-existent problems ever- increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the supposedly harmful impact of energy-driven economic development and growth. Scared citizens have then been polled by survey organizations and their concerns have in turn been employed by politicians as reason to enact policies that are distorting normal healthy market processes (e.g. cap and trade, carbon tax). These policies are now hindering economic growth and development. They are having devastating consequences for the poorest people as well as for the environment (the bio-fuels fiasco is notable here- it was an attempt to avoid more CO2 emissions and it has had an adverse impact in causing food prices to rise for the poorest people, along with the cutting of more rainforest to grow palm oil). The interrelated complex of environmentalist fear-mongering, public stress, and political reaction has become a self-reinforcing cycle of insanity.

David Suzuki has been a key figure in this environmental irresponsibility and unfounded alarmism. He has referred to CO2 as a poison. His foundation website refers to CO2 as “harmful, heat-trapping emissions”. But as many other scientists have pointed out CO2 is not harmful to humanity or nature. More CO2 in the atmosphere is actually good for life. It creates a greener, healthier planet with more abundant life. The 32,000 scientists who signed the protest petition against global warming alarmism have included the following statement affirming the importance of CO2: “This treaty (Kyoto) is, in our opinion, based on flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful”

There is no clear evidence that CO2 causes dangerous global warming. It has been merely hypothesized that it adds a small effect at the margins of natural warming trends (about as much as a few farts in a hurricane, according to one scientist) but this has been hard to actually detect among the many other natural variables in climate. Others point out that atmospheric increases of CO2 follow warming trends by several centuries and do not precede them (i.e. do not ‘cause’ them). This is established paleo-climatology fact that undermines the CO2/warming hypothesis. We also have our own experience over this past century where CO2 increased significantly while climate cooled from 1940 to 1975. And Earth is now again cooling and yet CO2 continues to rise. Where then is the causal relationship of CO2 to harmful warming?

This is not to deny that CO2 has a small radiative effect (greenhouse effect) but just to place this effect in proper perspective to much larger natural effects such as that of water vapor. Among other natural effects there are the varied negative feedback mechanisms in the climate system that continually bring temperatures back into ranges suitable to life (see Climate Confusion by Roy Spencer). And when you focus in on the tiny human contribution to CO2 cycles then you can understand why our contribution to any greenhouse effect is, as scientists say, “undetectable” or “statistically insignificant”.

Some people have argued that we must halt further emissions and get CO2 levels back to about 350 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere. But why pick that particular number? CO2 levels have varied significantly over history and such ongoing variation is natural. CO2 levels have never been static just as no other part of nature has ever remained static. Why then such hysteria today over these changes? And why pick a level that is historically low and arguably insufficient for sustaining a more healthy level of plant life?

Evidence reveals that more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial to plant life, animal life and humanity. The authors of "Welcome to the Greening Issue: The Good Side of Carbon Dioxide” have noted, “The biggest confusion is that people talk of CO2 as fertilizer. Fertilizer is to plants what vitamins are to people. CO2 is not fertilizer, it is food, the principal food of plants”. And more food means that plants grow more and become more healthy. They are able to adapt to more severe growing conditions such as in drier areas. More CO2 in the atmosphere over the past few decades has resulted in a presently greener world. And with more plant life, animal populations have increased. Also, more CO2 has meant that human crop growth has benefited and this means that more CO2 has contributed to feeding the world. The authors ask then, “How much of this benefit will be lost if the CO2 increase is slowed or halted?”

“Alarmists fail to incorporate the known ecological benefits of rising CO2 levels in their models. Scores of laboratory and field studies show that higher CO2 concentrations help most plants grow faster, stronger, and more profusely, utilize water more efficiently, and resist pollution and other environmental stresses.[102] Needless to say, all animals directly or indirectly depend on plants as a food source.

”Based on numerous empirical studies,(actually observable, not models) the 100ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 content over the past 150 years has increased mean crop yields by the following amounts:

wheat, 60 percent;
other C3 cereals, 70 percent;
C4 cereals, 28 percent;
fruits and melons, 33 percent;
legumes, 62 percent;
root and tuber crops, 67 percent;
and vegetables, 51 percent.[103]

”Were it not for the extra CO2 put into the atmosphere by fossil fuel combustion, either many people now living would not exist, or many forests now standing would have been cleared and turned into farmland—or both. CO2 emissions are literally greening the planet, enhancing biodiversity and global food availability. Continuing CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere will be necessary to feed a global population expected to increase by 3.3 billion over the next 50 years—and limit pressures to convert forests and wetlands into cropland.[104]” As John Carlisle notes in his commentary "Carbon Dioxide is Good for the Environment", “With little evidence that carbon dioxide triggers dangerous global warming but lots of evidence showing how carbon dioxide helps the environment, environmentalists should be extolling the virtues of this benign greenhouse gas”.

Add further this insightful comment from “Welcome to the Greening Issue: The Good Side of Carbon Dioxide” which points out that “Each plant's body, and therefore all bodies of living things, are built primarily from CO2. Most people do not understand this. It is one thing to say that CO2 is essential for life, which every biology book does. It is quite another to actually get people to understand that when they eat a steak they are eating processed CO2. That when they watch the leaves come out, they are watching CO2 being processed. That when they watch their child grow, they are watching processed CO2 being further processed. Plus that CO2 is a rare gas, therefore not to be blithely curtailed”.

Others have noted that “Carbon dioxide is not the dreaded greenhouse gas that the global warmers crack it up to be. It is in fact the most important airborne fertiliser in the world and without it there would be no green plants at all. In fact, a doubling of the levels of this gas in the atmosphere would bring about a marked rise in plant production -- good news for everyone, especially those malnourished millions who can't afford chemical fertilisers. Perhaps the time is ripe to really start worrying (again) about the fact that for the last 200 million years the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has been falling. Indeed it dropped to dangerously low levels during recent ice ages. The Plant Kingdom responded to this potentially catastrophic (no carbon no food) situation by producing the so-called C4 plants that can survive low CO2 by using sunlight more efficiently”

I could quote so much more but you get the drift. More CO2 in our atmosphere is good for all life. Hindering the increase of CO2 could have dangerous consequences for humanity and life.

With all this confirmed research on the benefits of more CO2 in our atmosphere I again ask: Why then all this current hysteria over increasing CO2 levels? Why fear something that is natural and good for life? One answer I would suggest here relates to the practice of the ancient shaman of the Paleolithic era who used exaggerated myths to scare their fellow tribesmen into submission. They blatantly used fear-mongering to control others. And similarly today we have anti-growth, anti-humanity (they want to severely reduce the human population), anti-progress, anti-technology (see The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought by J.E. de Steiguer for detail), anti-free enterprise zealots who have demonized CO2 which is a key output of our energy-based industrial societies. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are at the very heart of our modern progress and improved standards of living. By demonizing the essential basis of our society and progress, environmental extremists hope to halt the free enterprise endeavor and impose instead their preferred solution of socialism reborn in environmentalism with a new worldwide system of central planning (Kyoto) and accompanying highly regulated and constrained economic activity. They actually want us to return to a more primitive way of living (e.g. David Suzuki touts the wonders of Cuban ox-driven agriculture as preferable to modern mechanized agriculture). This is their preferred utopian vision. An earth covered in wilderness with a radically reduced human population “living in harmony with nature” (read- “living as primitives once lived”).

One of the esteemed environmental leaders, Arne Naess, said that green fits best with red, that is, communism or socialism. Hence, the re-emergence of socialism in environmentalism. It is this contemporary merging of neo-socialism with environmentalism that is proving to be the greatest threat to freedom, human well being, and to the environment today.

So while too many of us were not watching carefully a minority of extremists like Suzuki have successfully hijacked environmental concern (a good thing espoused by most of us) and used this concern to push a destructive anti-life program on humanity. This new extremist and unscientific environmentalism may prove to be the most destructive of all the mass hysteria movements of past history. It has already had impacts in slowing economic growth in places like Europe and its offspring, the bio-fuels fiasco, has harmed immense numbers of poor across the world. It has sent multiple tens of millions of people back into poverty. This is the true crime against humanity and life.

And most disturbing is that these extremists have pressured governments across the world to enact green policies that are distorting free market mechanisms and seriously constraining human freedom and choice. Oil companies are being hindered from exploring for new sources of energy and widespread environmental guilt-mongering is making it hard for many people to freely choose less expensive energy options. These extremists are trying to change human behavior and freedom of choice on a massive scale across the globe. They now comprise the greatest assault on human freedom of the past few centuries.

Surely, the example of Rachel Carson ought to serve as a warning regarding all these extremist bouts of hysteria and scare-mongering. Her excessive alarm over chemicals led to a ban on DDT and the resultant impact may have led to the deaths of tens of millions of people (see DDT FAQ at Did we not learn anything from past scares over global cooling, the ozone layer, forest harvesting, species loss, and so many others? While we should rightly be concerned about all aspects of our environment, environmental extremists have repeatedly presented these issues to the public in such exaggerated and distorting manner as to make all reasonable discussion or debate next to impossible. And their environmental scares have repeatedly come to little or nothing and yet they continue to irresponsibly spew them into the public realm and equally irresponsible media grant them ever more coverage, adding to the exaggeration and hysteria of the extremists. The consequences have been exceedingly costly to humanity and to all life, especially in terms of slowing human progress.

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