It's not enough to bash in heads, you have to bash in minds
            

Just when you thought deniers couldn’t get stupider

I was pretty sure we hit rock bottom when Rep. John Boehner (R – OH) claimed that “the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical”, but apparently I was wrong.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) defended his anti-global warming position on C-SPAN by arguing CO2 should not be regulated because it is not a pollutant. He said that since CO2 is in Coca-Cola it is safe for people and should not be regulated.

I would also point out that CO2, carbon dioxide, is not a pollutant in any normal definition of the term. … I am creating it as I talk to you. It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water. It is necessary for human life. It is odourless, colorless, tasteless, does not cause cancer, does not cause asthma.

Well if it in Coca-Cola then it must be good for you. Right?

Also thanks for clearing up that CO2 is not a carcinogen (that talking point will never get old), because after listening to Al Gore I was certain it was. I can’t find any references of him (or anyone else) saying that CO2 was a carcinogen, but surely they said that right? The honourable  Rep. Joe Barton  wouldn’t lie to us. Would he?

Of course he also hit on other standard denier talking points including plenty of naturalistic fallacies and claiming that no one has every been admitted to hospital due to CO2 posing. Really no one? I mean they even made a CSI episode on CO2 poisoning. And look  there is even a Wikipedia article on the subject. Mr Barton you are full of shit!

Of course no denier rant would be complete without the claim that water vapour is the greatest greenhouse gas, and Barton doesn’t disappoint. Of course what Barton doesn’t bother to mention is that water vapour concentrations vary in response to temperature, and thus amplify perturbations in the climate . That is why climatologists consider it a feedback and not a forcing.

All of which leads to one inescapable conclusion: These deniers are a persistent bunch, consistently trying to outdo each other’s stupidity.

The stupid, it burns!

10 Responses to Just when you thought deniers couldn’t get stupider

  1. Dan, these deniers will linger until we get journalists willing to confront them with basic science. They keep it up because they face only token skepticism and so it works to reach those wishing to believe the message. No one ever calls these guys out to their faces so it dissolves into the standard this guy says but this guy says standoff.

    Boner gets away with it because the media accommodates him. So does Barton and every other one of these clowns.

  2. And, interestingly enough, there are some alleged progressives who insist that carbon dioxide isn’t dangerous to humans at all, and so the only reason one may support reducing CO2 emissions is climate change.

    Interestingly, members of the flat earth society seems to come in many different shapes and sizes.

  3. @ MoS

    And that is why I spend as much time as I do making sure that people know how absolutely idiotic these deniers are.

    Also you might find Chris Mooney’s recent blog post on the denier’s last stand interesting.

    @ Patrick Ross

    I’ll agree that progressives can be just as anti-science as conservatives (see the anti-vaccine movement as an example), and I’ll agree that there are non-warming reasons to reduce CO2 emissions (ocean acidification being the big one), but your example falls short.

    You argue at that link that we should be concerned with CO2 emissions because of the effects of breathing in air with higher concentrations of CO2. But while it is true that high concentrations of CO2 can cause health problems and even death, the reality if that there is no chance that our GHG emissions will cause CO2 levels to rise to these quantities. The climate is at least an order of magnitude more sensitive to CO2 than the human body.

  4. If every serious TV show laughed these guys out of the room, there might be hope for our species. Unfortunately, as MoS points out, TV is overstocked with pretty boys, and air heads, and they don’t have the backing of their producers to go after BS like that coming from this political air head.

  5. ScruffyDan:

    Actually, I think this misses the point.

    Barton’s words may be silly and stupid, but it is quite unclear as to whether he believes this or not, or is just playing to his constituency. The 6th District of Texas is centered around Corsicana, home of the famous Spindletop, of which they say:

    “The modern oil industry was born on a hill in southeastern Texas.”

    Basically, ~ Fort McMurray, Alberta…

    Here is his funding profile.

  6. @ Saskboy

    Certainly the media deserves a large portion of the blame for this kind of stupidity.

    @ John

    I suppose that it wouldn’t be quite as bad if Barton didn’t believe what he was saying, but in terms of effect, I think the difference would be minimal.

    Either way, he should be criticized for saying absurdities to placate his constituents instead of making them face reality.

  7. @Scruffydan

    Oh, I’m all for criticizing him…. keep on it.

    Many people ascribe anti-science in AGW to getting paid by FF companies, but as best as I can tell:

    Entities like Heartland, CATO, Fraser (I think) get modest amounts from FF Companies, but usually much more from family foundations (like Scaife, Koch, etc), many of which were created with some FF money.

    Individual anti-science folks may get modest amounts of consulting money from FF companies.

    But there are a few visible politicians who get a substantial amount of FF money.

    Of course, Barton is only a Rep. A Senator can do better, see funding of James Inhofe.

  8. You argue at that link that we should be concerned with CO2 emissions because of the effects of breathing in air with higher concentrations of CO2. But while it is true that high concentrations of CO2 can cause health problems and even death, the reality if that there is no chance that our GHG emissions will cause CO2 levels to rise to these quantities. The climate is at least an order of magnitude more sensitive to CO2 than the human body.

    You’d be in error to try and make that argument, Dan.

    A lot of people forget about the fact that water absorbs CO2. If more water was evaporated by increased climate temperatures, it would increase the amount of CO2 in our air astronomically.

    Then again, this is assuming that one buys into the notion that there’s a looming climate apocalypse. Whatever Al Gore may have to say about it, the science on the matter doesn’t actually support this claim.

  9. @ Patrick

    You are making claims that I have never heard made before so you are going to have to clarify and provide sources which state at what level of CO2 does breathing it in become a health concern, and an estimate that indicates we may actually reach such concentrations.

    Also it would be nice to see a source estimating how much CO2 we would expect to be released from the evaporating oceans. As far as I know most of the increase in CO2 from the ocean comes as a result of warmer temperatures (not evaporation) and the lower amount of dissolved gases in warmer water.

    Looking at this myself, I find some of the highest estimates of CO2 equivalent GHG concentrations to be roughly 1000ppm (these come from Joe Romm, and include many potential feedbacks). Because this is CO2 equivalent that means that actual CO2 concentrations are less than CO2, but because I can’t find a source that quantifies how much less, I’ll just assume 1000 ppm of CO2.

    Doing a quick google search turns up this document from the Illinois department of health that warns that indoor air with 1000 ppm of CO2 could be problematic, and lead to complaints such as headaches, fatigue, and eye and throat irritation may be prevalent.

    But it clearly states CO2 is not the culprit, but rather is just an indicator of poor ventilation

    Carbon dioxide itself is not responsible for the complaints; however, a high level of carbon dioxide may indicate that other contaminants in the building also may be present at elevated levels and could be responsible for occupant complaints.

    So it doesn’t appear that 1000 ppm poses a health risk. In fact looking at Wikipedia they claim that levels as high as 1% of CO2 is possible in poorly ventilated buildings, and that may cause drowsiness after pronged exposure. It isn’t until 2% that CO2 becomes mildly narcotic, and it isn’t until 8% that very serious health issues arise.

    But all of this this is a far cry from 1000 ppm which equals only 0.1%. So I stand by what I said: ‘The climate is at least an order of magnitude more sensitive to CO2 than the human body.

    Oh and if you wish to have any credibility when talking about the science of climate change please don’t bring up Al Gore. He isn’t a scientist, what he says isn’t part of the scientific case for climate change. At best he is a celebrity spokesmen, who happens to be an effective communicator. And a quick reading of this blog (or better yet the scientific literature) would make it abundantly clear that the overwhelming majority of the relevant experts (and the results of their studies) support the ‘consensus’ on climate change.

Leave a Reply