If some carbon dioxide is good for the Earth, then a whole lot should be great, right?
A new organization called CO2 is Green would have you believe so. The group recently placed large ads in the Santa Fe New Mexican and other local newspapers arguing that “thousands of experiments have shown that more CO2 is beneficial to plants and ecosystems.”
Leighton Steward, the geologist and businessman who heads the group of oil and gas producers and others, says, “I’m simply saying that the science doesn’t back up that CO2 has any significant impact on climate change. The planet would be much better off if we let the CO2 levels rise.”
Steward’s claims are important because they directly contradict widely-acknowledged scientific assertions that a rise in human-caused carbon emissions – i.e., pollution from coal-fired power plants and vehicles – causes global warming that is harmful to the Earth.
The ad, which urges people to call their senators to remind them that CO2 is not pollution and results in a greener Earth, comes as Congress grapples with complicated climate control legislation that will likely include new limits on carbon emissions that will greatly displease oil and gas producers.
The ad, which runs on television, online and in print, is clearly aimed at influencing Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and will oversee much of the climate control bill process.
The only problem is, the claims made by CO2 is Green are apparently based on peer-reviewed research that’s embarrassingly outdated.
The Santa Fe New Mexican spoke with Philip Jones, a climatologist from the Climate, Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling project at Los Alamos National Laboratory who said there is a “kernel of truth” in Steward’s arguments, but taking in the whole picture, Steward’s science is simply wrong.
“Although there are always scientific uncertainties, there is clear and compelling evidence that the climate is warming and that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for most of the warming of recent decades,” wrote Jones, William Lipscomb and four other LANL climatologists, in an opinion piece to The New Mexican.
Sandra Ely, the Energy and Environment Coordinator for the state Environment Department, told the New Mexican that oil and gas producers are ratcheting up their attacks against the scientific basis of global warming, even in the face of increasing proof.
A recent state Environment Department meeting on possible changes to a greenhouse-gas reporting rule was swarmed by opponents who spent most of the time debating the science behind the argument, Ely said.
“It’s a mistake not to implement policies now that address climate change, “ Ely told the New Mexican. “I think this pushback is detrimental to the people of New Mexico and to the planet as a whole.”
Kudos to Ely for saying so – and kudos to the editors of the Santa Fe New Mexican for going to such lengths to checking out the accuracy of the ad that appeared in their pages.