It seems that the Obama régime in America is poised to have the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declare Carbon Dioxide a pollutant — which shows that they know even less about science than they know about economics.
CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a naturally-occurring gas in the atmosphere which is absolutely essential and fundamental to life itself. The carbon cycle is vital to plant growth. Without CO2, plant life would be impossible, so all terrestrial life on the planet would die (OK, there might be a few anaerobic bacteria surviving somewhere). Indeed increased atmospheric CO2 levels result in enhanced plant growth and higher crop yields — a point that Nicholas Stern failed to take account of in his deeply-flawed Report. CO2 is emitted by mammals (both ends) in large quantities, as well as being absorbed by plants. And CO2 is emitted in vast quantities by volcanic eruptions and other seismic events.
The carbon cycle includes major exchanges of CO2 between the atmosphere and the oceans, which drives the correlation over long time-scales between atmospheric CO2 levels and global temperature. As Al Gore failed to point out in his disaster movie, the record shows that temperature changes lead CO2 changes by centuries — in other words, temperature drives CO2, and not, as the alarmists like to believe, the other way round.
CO2 is of course a greenhouse gas. Its climate forcing effect is governed by a logarithmic equation which means that the higher the current level of CO2, the less effect any further increase in CO2 levels will have. From today, an extra 20 ppm (compared to the existing 380 ppm) would make almost no difference. But if we lived in an atmosphere with no CO2 at all, then the addition of 20 ppm would have a major warming effect. Put it the other way round: if we could instantly remove all CO2 from the atmosphere, the earth would cool dramatically. We should find ourselves in a new and permanent Ice Age, with probably no liquid water anywhere on the surface of the planet.
So let’s be clear. Removal of this “pollutant” CO2 from the atmosphere would kill all life on earth, and plunge the planet into a permanent Ice Age. You may be inclined to say that on that basis, a little pollution is no bad thing.
Let’s make a comparison with water. Water, like CO2, is essential to all life on earth. Water, like CO2, is a greenhouse gas, and a much more powerful and effective greenhouse gas than CO2. Water vapour levels are entirely beyond our control. With three quarters of the world covered with water, vast exchanges of water between the oceans and the atmosphere take place constantly — they are an essential component of our weather — so we could not control water vapour even if we wanted to (you may well think that we can’t really control CO2 levels, either — and you’d be right).
So they are going to declare CO2 a pollutant. To be consistent, they will also have to declare water a pollutant. The world has gone mad (or at least, the Obama Régime seems to have gone mad!).