Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

‘Carbon Pollution’ Jargon is Sick and Twisted

If carbon dioxide is pollution, every human being is a perpetual pollution factory. Every toddler in their sandbox generates CO2 every minute of every day.


Twenty-four years ago, in what is considered the first general-interest book on global warming, a journalist who would later morph into a full-blown climate activist said this about carbon dioxide:

This is not pollution in the normal sense of the word. Carbon monoxide is “pollution,” an unnecessary by-product…There has always been, at least since the start of life, a certain amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it has always trapped a certain amount of sunlight to warm the earth. [bold added; italics in the original]

The journalist’s name was Bill McKibben. The book was titled The End of Nature.

Had he been more evenhanded, McKibben would have added that CO2 is vital to a healthy, green planet. CO2 is plant food. This, after all, is the underlying premise of carbon offsets. Your flight to Paris generates X amount of CO2. Pay us a fee, we’ll plant more trees, and those trees will remove your flight’s worth of CO2 from the atmosphere by consuming it.

McKibben might also have pointed out that we humans are part of a beautiful, virtuous cycle. Plants produce oxygen – without which there would be no people, polar bears, baby seals, pandas, or rhinos. In our turn, we produce CO2 – on which plants depend.

We learn these basic facts in elementary school. To casually refer to CO2 as “carbon pollution,” therefore, is to repudiate biology for beginners.

But that is exactly what is happening. In their zeal to heighten our alarm about climate change, environmentalists now talk incessantly about “carbon pollution” (see here, here, here, here, and here).

The degree to which that jargon is permeating the rest of society is evident in a headline published today by FoxNews: Obama gives details on plan to cut carbon pollution... The phrase “carbon pollution” is used twice within the body of that story – as if it represents a sensible way of thinking about these matters.

Let us follow this logic to its inevitable conclusion. Let us be clear about what this means.

If CO2 is pollution, then every human child is a perpetual pollution factory. Every infant in their crib, and every toddler in their sandbox generates CO2 every minute of every day.

People who equate human beings with pollution are sick and twisted.

This is not a morally defensible analysis.



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This entry was posted on June 23, 2013 by in Al Gore, Bill McKibben, ethical & philosophical, media and tagged , , .
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