I recently published a piece on Medium called “CO2 on Trial” wherein I argued
Of course, fossil fuel interests are financially interested in derailing any such an outcome. Inevitably, some of them have tried to prevent it. Sadly, they have so far succeeded.
To achieve this, they encourage us to approach the issue of anthropogenic global warming as a courtroom battle. In this view, CO2 stands as an accused individual endowed with rights, innocent until proven guilty.
CARBON DIOXIDE IS NOT A DEFENDANT ACCUSED OF A CRIME
We should not care whether CO2 can be “proven guilty”. We ought to care, rather, whether there is some substantial likelihood that accumulating CO2 will disrupt the future, some chance large enough that the present should take account of it. We have long since passed that threshhold, but our discourse does not reflect it.
The carbon problem should not be handled as a prosecution. It is a risk management issue. This should take it out of the domain of courtroom drama and into the tedium of actuarial calculations.
Basically proving my point, (not as an explicit response to it, I hope) Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal called “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide”.
Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That’s simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.
Emphasis added. The claim that “none has a worse reputation” is ludicrous, of course. But the thrust of the argument is clear – we are to see CO2 as maligned and in a spirit of fairness and justice rise to its defense!
Climate Science Watch reprints a rebuttal from the Climate Nexus group, as well as linking to:
- Media Matters: “Wall Street Journal ‘s Idiocracy: CO2 Is What Plants Crave”
- Climate Denial Crock of the Week: Wall Street Journal: CO2 Good for Plants. Seriously.
- Columbia Journalism Review: “The WSJ editorial page hits rock bottom”
Let me repeat my previous point, though. There is no presumption of innocence of an industrial byproduct. CO2 has no rights. Although by now the problems with CO2 are obvious, the issue is not one of innocence or guilt, but of rational risk management.