Don't play into the climate alarmists' hands by using their language

[Update: A different version of these thoughts has been published at the Media Malpractice web page of the National Review Institute:]

Following is a letter I sent to the Washington Times in response to a news article entitled "Chilly wind blows against global climate pact"...

Perhaps the key to the "global warming" aka "climate change" debate is that the alarmists have successfully caused many Americans to believe that carbon dioxide, aka plant food, is pollution.  Since the vast majority -- perhaps up to 95% -- of the so-called "greenhouse effect" comes from naturally occurring water vapor, there very little room for CO2 to have an important climatic impact. Furthermore, only about 3%-5% of all atmospheric CO2 is man-made.  The vast majority of it is naturally-occurring, such as from volcanoes, rotting vegetation, and the almost amusing flatulence of millions of farm animals.  In other words, man-made carbon dioxide probably accounts for less than two tenths of one percent of the entire "greenhouse effect." Reducing those emissions would likely have a near-zero climate impact while causing tremendous economic damage around the world since CO2 is so closely tied to economic output and growth.

Therefore, when a newspaper reporter, in discussing carbon dioxide emissions, calls China and India "leading polluters", she is playing right into the junk-science-based hands of the fundamentally anti-capitalist climate alarmist movement.  Carbon is not a pollutant, carbon dioxide is unlikely to be having an important impact on overall climate, with man-made CO2 likely having an all but immeasurable impact.  If a "conservative" newspaper parrots the left's propaganda, even if unintentionally, there is little hope in returning the climate debate to sanity.  Perhaps, when discussing carbon dioxide, instead of calling countries "polluters" we might call them "supporters of plant life."  It's just as accurate and substantially less misleading.

Ross Kaminsky is a fellow of the Heartland Institute
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