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Is Carbon Dioxide a Dangerous Pollutant?

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The EPA says yes, but I don’t think so. And I recently came across a book arguing that increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 may actually benefit the earth’s many life forms.
Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared carbon dioxide a dangerous air pollutant, I believe just the opposite. Recently I came across a book that should be required reading for every member of Congress and policymaker in the U.S. It argues that not only are increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2  not dangerous to human, animal or plant health, but that they actually benefit earth’s many life forms, counteracting the deleterious effects of real air pollutants (1).
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. It is the primary raw material out of which plants construct their tissues which in turn are the materials out of which animals construct theirs. This knowledge is so well established, in fact, that we humans – and all the rest of the biosphere – are described in the most basic of terms as carbon-based lifeforms.
Nowadays, however, it seems that when atmospheric CO2 is discussed all we hear are the presumed negative consequences of its increasing concentration. Countless hours and dollars have been spent by organizations of all kinds writing and promoting large reports about it. Yet, nearly all of these endeavors have failed miserably, by not evaluating, or even acknowledging, the real and measurable benefits of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content. As a result, the many important and positive impacts of atmospheric CO2 enrichment remain underappreciated and largely ignored in the debate over what to do, or not do, about anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
My first reference attempts to rectify the imbalance by outlining 55 ways in which the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 is benefiting earth’s biosphere. These include biomass, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, human longevity, human mortality, light stress, medicinal plants, nitrogen fixation, nutrient acquisition, and many more. This book is not beach reading, but is a very valuable reference.
At about the same time I located the first reference, I became aware that Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a bill to prohibit federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions (2).  His bill, the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (S. 228) would overturn EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and safety, and block plans
to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities using the Clean Air Act (CAA).
Also, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee; and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee and Environment and Public Works; have released their draft of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (3).This draft bill is one more attempt to stop EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda which LICA opposes.
This draft legislation is based on the belief that 1) Congress, not EPA bureaucrats, should be in charge of setting America’s climate change policy; and that 2) A 2-year delay of EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda provides no real certainty for job creators, fails to protect jobs and punts decision-making in Congress on a critically important economic issue past the voters and the election next year. This draft would prevent EPA from imposing by regulation the massive cap-and-trade tax that Congress rejected last session. Even EPA has admitted their regulations will have no meaningful impact on climate. America’s producers, including LICA contractors, should not carry this unnecessary tax burden.
As I finish this article I am reminded of something that Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) wrote back in 2009.  Lewis wrote an article entitled Is the Climate Science Debate Over?  No, It’s Just Getting Very, Very Interesting (with welcome news for mankind) (4). He said that although tirelessly intoned by politicians, major media, advocacy groups, academics and even some Kyoto critics, the “debate is over” mantra is just plain false.  The core issues of climate change attribution, climate sensitivity and even anthropogenic detection are unsettled and more so today than at any time in the past decade.
I’ll end by suggesting another good read on this subject.  It is entitled Carbon Dioxide and Earth’s Future: Pursuing the Prudent Path, and it can be found at  Good reading.


  1. Dr. Craig D, Idso and Dr. Sherwood B. Idso, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment: How humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper from this amazing tract gas that so many have wrongfully characterized as a dangerous air pollutant, the Science and Public Policy Institute and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change, Vales Lake Publishing, LLC, Pueblo West, CO, 2011.  Library of Congress Control Number:  2010941431.
  2. Read the Barrasso bill on
  3. Press update, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, Upton, Whitfield, Inhofe Unveil Energy Tax Prevention Act to Protect America’s Jobs & Families.
  4. Lewis, Marlo, Is the Climate Science Debate Over?  No, It’s Just Getting Very, Very Interesting (with welcome news for mankind), Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 24, 2009.

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