Today, President Obama unveiled his administration's latest initiative to combat climate change, the Clean Power Plan. Authored and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, the new program requires a national reduction in power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 32 percent just a mere decade and a half from now. Such a mandate, in and of itself, is a Herculean task that can be debated as to whether or not it is even possible to accomplish, as forecasts from the Administration's own Department of Energy indicate ever more energy will be needed in the years and decades ahead -- a need that is unlikely to be met without expanding the production of energy from fossil fuel combustion.
In the days, weeks and months ahead a lively debate will likely ensue with regard to how the President's new emission rule will be implemented, the amount of jobs it will create, the lives it purports to save, the plan's reliability, affordability and flexibility, the virtues of expanding renewable energy sources, and -- dare we state it -- the racial implications for implementing (or not implementing) the new rule.
As important as these features and characteristics are, however, it is crucial to note that none of them truly matter. They are all distractions from where the real debate should be taking place: the reason why the plan is being implemented.
According to the President and his acolytes, the Clean Power Plan is necessary in order to "tackle the threat of climate change." In their view, increasing CO2 emissions are leading humanity down a dangerous path of irreversible global warming and climate change. Carbon dioxide is a perilous "pollutant" that will wreak havoc on society and the environment unless the new emission rule is implemented.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
President Obama's Clean Power Plan is built upon a pack of lies. This I know because for the past two decades I have read and published reviews of literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers that show rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have little impact on global climate. These reviews, along with some of my own original research, are archived on the CO2 Science website, www.co2science.org, as well as in the 2013 publication Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science. This massive collection of papers definitively refutes the narrative President Obama is attempting to sell America and the rest of the world; for there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about the planet's current level of warmth, extreme weather events are not increasing, and the net impact of rising temperatures is to actually save human lives.
Furthermore, it is equally disingenuous of the President and his Administration to characterize CO2 as a "pollutant." Carbon dioxide is a well-known aerial fertilizer, and many thousands of studies have proven the growth-enhancing, water-saving and stress-alleviating benefits it provides for the biosphere, which benefits were recently summarized in the 2014 publication Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts.
The reality is that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are stimulating the productivity of the entire biosphere, where despite all of the many real and imagined assaults on Earth's vegetation that have occurred over the past several decades, including wildfires, disease, pest outbreaks, deforestation, and climatic changes in temperature and precipitation, as shown in the figure below, the terrestrial biosphere has become, in the mean, an increasingly greater sink for CO2-carbon, more than compensating for any of the negative effects these phenomena may have had on the global biosphere. Additionally, the direct monetary benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on global crop production have been estimated to have been a staggering $3.2 trillion over the period 1961-2011.
Five-year smoothed rates of carbon transfer from land to air (+) or from air to land (-) vs. time. Adapted from Tans (2009, Oceanography 22: 26-35).
The Obama Administration should be fully aware of all of these truths. Copies of both Climate Change Reconsidered publications have been submitted to the EPA and other government agency officials over the years in one form or another. Sadly, however, rather than acknowledging these verities, the Administration has been hell-bent on disregarding them. This is where the real story lies and where the debate should be centered; for how in the world can a substance so beneficial and essential to life on Earth be so incorrectly demonized and regulated as a pollutant when literally thousands of scientific measurements and observations indicate otherwise?
Clearly, the people behind these actions care little for the truth, little for fossil fuels, little for affordable energy and little for the millions of unfortunate people who will suffer the negative consequences of the President's misguided plan.
Dr. Craig D. Idso
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change