By Bill Stewart
WHEN I saw the terms “unregulated climate pollution” and “climate crisis” in the first paragraph of one of The Free Lance–Star’s Sunday Forum pieces [“Should public lands in the West be closed to energy production? Yes: They are a critical solution to climate change”] on March 22, my first reaction was to find out if the author from the Wilderness Society had any academic training in the physical sciences.
I wasn’t disappointed: She has a BA in political science.
Let’s talk first about the beneficial aspects of carbon dioxide. Together with water and sunlight, CO2 is catalyzed by chlorophyll to become plant food, the basis of all life on earth.
It is anything but pollution, whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Supreme Court says it is.
The problem is that there is too little CO2 in the atmosphere, not too much.
We are actually very lucky that life on Earth still exists, as CO2 has gradually been leaving the atmosphere over the last 140 million years, absorbed by cold ocean water, and then converted into calcium carbonate (CaCO3) by marine animals (both single and multicellular) for their protective shells.
When they die, the shells fall to the ocean floor where they become carboniferous rock, and are removed from the carbon cycle. A must-read is “The Positive Impact of Human CO2 Emissions on the Survival of Life on Earth” by the environmental scientist, Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the co-founders of Greenpeace. It is 20 pages long and downloadable free on the internet.
About 18,000 years ago, before the beginning of the warmer interglacial period we are in now, the CO2 content of air dipped down to 180 parts per million, which was perilously close to 150 ppm, the point at which plant life starts dying due to CO2 starvation.
Thanks to the CO2 put into the atmosphere by humans, CO2 has increased now to above 400 ppm, causing a burst of greening of the Earth, with an estimated one-third growth of the mass of the biosphere since 1950. An ideal amount would be 1,600 ppm (four times the present level), the amount of CO2 that greenhouse operators maintain for ideal plant growth.
And there is a large and growing body of verified and replicated science showing the benefits to plant life (forests, cropland and everything green) of more CO2, not less.
There simply is no climate crisis; it isn’t happening. The scare of rapidly rising temperatures is based on old science: the hypothesis that water vapor creates “positive feedbacks” to atmospheric temperatures.
There are some 30 climate models paid for by taxpayers at great expense which have predicted runaway warming 2.5 to 3 times the slight warming that has actually occurred.
The scientific method says that when you make predictions that don’t match reality, you throw out the theory and start all over again with a new theory. And natural variations predict almost all of the warming that has occurred. That is to say that mankind may have had an effect on the climate, but it is so small it hasn’t been measured, and it certainly isn’t catastrophic.
Wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes? They are happening at the same or lower rates than we have had for the last 100 years. No catastrophes there.
What is catastrophic are renewables, which are complete environmental disasters. A solar farm takes 10,000 acres of land to equal the output of a 1,000 megawatt central station fossil or nuclear plant, which sits on just 20 acres of land.
The solar farm destroys forests, removes the topsoil and replaces it with ground cover to reduce erosion. It destroys 10,000 acres of wildlife and bird habitat, and provides intermittent and expensive electricity.
And when it is retired, it generates millions of cubic feet of highly toxic waste to be disposed of. It is nothing but a Potemkin power plant, making electricity only 15 to 20 percent of the time as the electricity people use comes almost totally from the “backup” fossil fuel plant.