Carbon Dioxide is not Pollution

Posted: April 27, 2010 in environment
Tags: , , ,

Ok, let’s get something straight, pollution is bad, it sucks, it’s the kind of the thing that when you come into contact with it, it causes you pain, or illness or death.  So let’s refrain from calling carbon dioxide pollution at least not on the scale of mercury or DDT.  Now, all of you global warming disclaimers hold the cork on that champagne, global warming is a fact, debating that makes you an idiot.  The amount of global warming related to human activity and how much is related to natural earth cycles is up for debate to a point.  A quick statistics lesson, a correlation is when two things proceed in the same trend direction at a similar level.  Correlation may imply, but does not show cause and effect, in other words two things may be correlated but there is no evidence one is causing the other.  The classic example is that as the number of alcoholics increases so do the number of baptist ministers.  Clearly a correlation however no one is assuming baptist ministers lead to alcoholism, at least there’s no evidence at this time.  What really is at work is that both increase due to population increases which will lead to more ministers and more alcoholics.  In the case of global warming however, there is some decent indications that there is cause and effect between the rise in industrialized society, increased carbon dioxide and resulting increase in global temperatures.

Now that makes global warming an issue, a serious one, it will impact weather patterns and sea level.  This can negatively impact farming, cause droughts, violent storms and change the location of coastlines among other things.  Changing temperatures can increase the spread of pests and diseases.  These types of issues are serious without doubt and need to be addressed by reasonable means.  However I don’t believe that considering carbon dioxide a pollutant is the answer, regulation at some level is reasonable, treating carbon dioxide as toxic is not.

My biggest fear, and one that is already being realized, is that the idea of carbon dioxide as the big evil, as pollution, has allowed the nuclear industry to market nuclear power as clean energy.  I don’t know about you but I don’t typically consider spent uranium rods that stay toxic for thousands of years a byproduct of clean energy.  What they of course are saying is that it is a near zero carbon emission source of energy.  My answer to that is let’s store all those spent fuel rods in their yards, and build the reactors near their children’s schools and upwind of their homes.



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