Tuesday, January 22, 2008

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Carbon Dioxide is a Pollutant.

I don't know how long it's been going around, but I recently started noticing a new term being used to describe carbon dioxide emissions. Here's an example from a Baltimore Sun blog entry from today (emphasis added):
This may come as a surprise to some. An overwhelming number of Republicans in the recent South Carolina primary wanted action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, according to a report by the radio program Living on Earth.
Scientifically speaking, it's nonsense to describe carbon dioxide as a pollutant. As the news media and various public figures keep using the term so casually, though, many people with little science background will come to make the association without realizing it. Of course, pollution is bad -- we must do all we can to minimize it. And presto, public support for the AGW agenda.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the notion of CO2 as a pollutant: With any other pollutant, you could take an air sample and distinguish pollutant particles from the remainder of the air sample. How do you do that with carbon dioxide? Further, if CO2 is a pollutant, the earth's atmosphere has been polluted since before man first rubbed two sticks together.

UPDATE 2: I left a comment on the Baltimore Sun blog objecting to the use of the "greenhouse gas pollution" term. I was reminded in an e-mail reply that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that carbon dioxide is in fact a pollutant. The courts have spoken. If I had any sense, I would just shut up now. Being a "denier", though, I'll probably just come back and say (with raised eyebrow): If all you have to go on is a court ruling, I daresay the science behind such a claim is a bit shaky.

UPDATE 3: Reader Tigger23505 pointed me to this wonderful quote from Justice Scalia's dissent in Massachusetts v. EPA, the aforementioned USSC case. Responding to the logical gymnastics employed by the majority to allow the designation of carbon dioxide as an air pollutant, Scalia remarked:
It follows that everything airborne, from Frisbees to flatulence, qualifies as an 'air pollutant'. This reading of the statute defies common sense.