The Hawaii Reporter
April 7, 2009
It’s one of the first things I remember learning in second grade science class: People breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants “breathe” in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. It seems that some scientists and journalists missed that day of class.
The phenomenon has been discovered in a variety of flora, ranging from tropical rainforests to British sugar beet crops.
It means they are soaking up at least some of the billions of tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans that would otherwise be accelerating the rate of climate change.
Plants survive by extracting CO2 from the air and using sunlight to convert it into proteins and sugars.
Since 1750 the concentration in the air has risen from of CO2 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 380 ppm, making it easier for plants to acquire the CO2 needed for rapid growth.
Plants are getting bigger and stronger, taking in more CO2 and, I presume, sending out more O2. Could it be that a little extra CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than spelling out doom for every living thing on the planet, is…a good thing? Could it be that increased CO2 will mean stronger plants, and thusly more and better crops? Could it be that efforts to stem the tide of the increase in CO2 will lead to decreases in food production and food shortages across the globe?
Lawrence Solomon, author of The Deniers, wrote about this very phenomenon last June in the Financial Post, in a column called “In Praise of CO2.”
Doubling the jeopardy for Earth is man. Unlike the many scientists who welcome CO2 for its benefits, many other scientists and most governments believe carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant that must be removed from the atmosphere at all costs. Governments around the world are now enacting massive programs in an effort to remove as much as 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.
If these governments are right, they will have done us all a service. If they are wrong, the service could be all ill, with food production dropping world wide, and the countless ecological niches on which living creatures depend stressed. The second order effects could be dire, too. To bolster food production, humans will likely turn to energy intensive manufactured fertilizers, depleting our store of non-renewable resources. Techniques to remove carbon from the atmosphere also sound alarms. Carbon sequestration, a darling of many who would mitigate climate change, could become a top inducer of earthquakes, according to Christian Klose, a geohazards researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Because the carbon sequestration schemes tend to be located near cities, he notes, carbon-sequestration-caused earthquakes could exact an unusually high toll.
Amazingly, although the risks of action are arguably at least as real as the risks of inaction, Canada and other countries are rushing into Earth-altering carbon schemes with nary a doubt. Environmentalists, who ordinarily would demand a full-fledged environmental assessment before a highway or a power plant can be built, are silent on the need to question proponents or examine alternatives.
Everywhere you look, there’s another hole in the theory of Global Warming. Even a second grader could tell you that.
Additionally, a few weeks ago in this space we told you about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The goal of this act was to protect small children from ingesting lead. Andrew in New York brings my attention to the sobering reality; the consequences have been disastrous for business, families, and, as it turns out, could be putting children in harm’s way:
Thousands of children 12 and younger ride motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles, which is why a lot of effort and time has gone into designing vehicles made for smaller folks. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal noted a study by the Motorcycle Industry Council that concluded “90% of the youth fatalities and injuries on motorcycles occur when kids ride adult vehicles.
On Thursday of last week, the Senate of the United States voted 58 to 39 to reject an amendment to the budget bill designed to keep kids on bikes designed for them and thus off adult vehicles. The reason the amendment was offered by South Carolina’s Jim DeMint is because the 2008 “Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act” mandates that products containing even trace amounts of lead –trace amounts highly unlikely to ever come in contact with a child’s digestion system– were banned from sale to children 12 and under.
The law took effect in February an instantly made it illegal to sell the kid-sized vehicles because of nearly undetectabl amounts of lead in tire valves, brakes, batteries etc. Replacement parts for vehicles for kids are similarly interdicted.
Ed Morrissey states the obvious:
I find it ridiculous to point this out to Congress, but children do not eat ATVs. The lead content of its components will not end up in small stomachs. Children do not ride ATVs without being clothed, so skin contact is minimal and transitory. What’s next — banning cars because children might ride in them?
No, they’ll be banned because of the emissions, silly!