June 24, 2009
The regulation of essential elements of lifeBy Lonnie E. Schubert
The EPA is now considering designating CO2 a dangerous pollutant. The regulation of essential elements of life by our government scares me. It should scare us all. I am devastated by the notion that our own government founded on freedom would regulate and control the most fundamental aspects of life on earth. Regulation on life's important things is certainly tyranny and certainly will destroy the world, at least the nation and supposed freedom, we leave to our children.
Please, do not regulate the essential elements of life. Freedom is too precious to take it away in such pointless ways.
Carbon dioxide is one of the three essential elements of life on our planet. Despite being arguably THE essential requirement for life, water, sometimes called dihydrogen monoxide, is extremely dangerous, killing even children every year. How much is destroyed every year by floods and rot? Water is by far the most important energy absorbing gas in our atmosphere. Without gaseous water in our air, our earth would be far too cold to support us. The other gasses that absorb energy contribute less than one-fifth of the total effect we refer to as the greenhouse effect. In short, we generally have too much water where we don't need it and too little where we do. Are you planning to regulate water also? The potential gains are obvious. If we can reduce water waste and control it in the environment, we can eliminate most of the dangers associated with water.
Likewise, oxygen. This life-essential element is extremely dangerous. Not only can it kill directly, becoming toxic as the partial pressure exceeds 0.3, it kills and destroys by chemically combining with metal and organic material, that is, by oxidation, referred to as corrosion and burning respectively. How many people die each year in fires? How many in structural failures caused by corrosion? Already considering the deaths, dollars hardly seem noteworthy, but the costs of damage caused by oxygen is staggering.
Frankly, if we are going to regulate an essential element of life, oxygen would be my first choice, because I at least know that I can avoid producing it and releasing it into the environment.
If we regulate carbon dioxide or water, we will all be subject to the regulations because we cannot avoid producing both and releasing them into the environment. Me and my children, and yours too, will become polluters as we simply live and respire. I cannot comprehend it. How can one possibly be subject to law and penalty simply by breathing? Regulating carbon dioxide would necessarily regulate breathing. I cannot breathe without expelling this life-giving chemical. Life on our planet cannot exist without it.
For the record, I wish it stated emphatically, carbon dioxide is just as essential to life as water and oxygen. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than oxygen or water.
It is not possible to argue that any of these chemicals can be regulated by government bureaucracy and legislation to any good effect. It simply is not possible. Again, carbon dioxide is the basis of the energy cycle for life. Without sufficient carbon dioxide plants stop photosynthesis. Without plants, the whole chain breaks down, and we all die. We must not do this to our children. (And yes, it is what you are ultimately trying to do if you try to stop or tax or penalize the production of carbon dioxide.)
Again, I point out that all of us respire carbon dioxide simply by living. Note that we respire based on our activity level and our mass. First consider mass, please. We consume energy on a per pound basis. A 200 pound person exhales twice as much carbon dioxide as a 100 pound person. Considering that several people have exceeded 1000 pounds in recent decades, are we going to tax weight under carbon dioxide limit rules? It seems fair, but it is also tyrannical. Of course, one might spend hours per day burning the food calories to keep off the weight. Obviously the strenuous exercise generates much more carbon dioxide than sedentary pursuits. Is the plan to tax time at the gym as well? Perhaps we can pay subsidies for people who elect to shun motorized transport and walk or pedal to work. Of course, most people could not be coerced to walk or bicycle to work. The time and restrictions are far too great a cost to make up for all but the threat of physical punishment. Even more, perhaps essentially all, could not be persuaded in any way to brave the elements on foot or on a bicycle.
I wonder that some will think my thoughts extreme, but it has already been suggested. The UK's Sun environmental editor Ben Jackson on 21 April 2009 suggested that fatties must reduce to halt global warming. It is false, of course, but if carbon dioxide is presumed to cause catastrophe, then fatties are as much to blame as SUVs and coal fired power plants!
Now to the direct point of carbon dioxide causing catastrophe. How can anyone be so dumb? Al Gore was born that way, but what about you, my dear reader? You were not born so dumb. Just ask your mother. You know from your everyday life that warmer is better than colder. Check the deaths in winter versus summer. Far more people die from trauma directly attributable to cold versus heat. Yes, the heat waves cause deaths too, but most are simply an unlucky slight push to those ready to pass on of natural causes anyway. The medical statistics are clear. Cold kills. Heat, for the most part, only kills the careless.
I assert boldly that global warming is a good thing. First, it simply cannot get much warmer on a water filled planet. Recall your freshman and sophomore physics classes. This is simple. You know it yourself. You need no prophet of doom to tell you. It is within your own experience, at least if you have ever lived in the central US or in the tropics. The consistency of the tropics is mostly due to the water. The variability and extremes of the central US is due to the lack thereof. Water moderates, and on this blue marble it will simply generate more clouds and thunderstorms in response to higher energy availability, and consume the extra energy in more rapid buildup and precipitation and overall circulation rather than increased temperature. Of course, in some centuries future, the cycle will overwhelm itself, and we will slide into the next glaciation, killing most of our decedents unless their technological advances can generate more power than they will need to live on the ice covered earth.
Returning to the carbon dioxide, do you simply not understand the simple physics of radiative absorption? The atmosphere is nearly transparent to the incoming solar radiation, allowing the photons to warm the earth's surface. The warmed surface in turn radiates back toward space at infrared frequencies, many of which are absorbed by gaseous water molecules and carbon dioxide. When a photon of the specific wavelength absorbable by the molecule strikes it, the molecule absorbs the energy and warms. That molecule will then cool by emitting a new photon at a wavelength consistent with its temperature and its surroundings. In general, the wavelength emitted will not be prone to absorption by another molecule. Accordingly, roughly half of the energy of such captured photons will be reradiated on out to space and lost from the earth forever. The other half will find their way back to the surface, accounting for what we refer to as the greenhouse effect.
Note that more carbon dioxide does not actually trap more energy because the atmosphere is already opaque to the absorbed frequencies. Ask any astronomer or anyone whose business uses infrared sensors. There are rather short limits in distance for observations in the infrared spectrum because the atmosphere absorbs too much due to the presence of water molecules and carbon dioxide molecules.
Please, the simple fact is that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is roughly in equilibrium with carbon dioxide dissolved in the oceans. Carbon dioxide concentration will necessarily rise in the atmosphere as the average ocean temperature rises. To ensure I am clear, global warming causes a rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The causation is the same in the laboratory. Again, think back to your freshman and sophomore physics labs. Carbon dioxide comes out of the carbonated beverage as it warms. If it is kept chilled, it retains much more of its carbonation. Solubility is inversely proportional to temperature for carbon dioxide in water. Colder oceans absorb more carbon dioxide removing it from the atmosphere. Warmer oceans will not hold the carbon dioxide, and atmospheric concentrations go up.
Perhaps it is nonintuitive that all of our fossil fuels came from carbon dioxide that was once in the air and was subsequently converted to biological material through photosynthesis. Our fossil fuels are simply carbon dioxide concentrated by solar energy and earth forces so we can easily use it now. It is simply unreasonable to suppose it to be catastrophic to place this carbon back into the atmosphere from whence it came.
As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
I have made my case simply. The overall situation is complex, but many of the principals and truths are very simple, so simple we teach them to teenagers before we expect them to be mature. Is it not obvious that Al Gore is simply paying the bills with his hyped doom saying? Perhaps the same cannot be said for Hanson, but I suggest he is simply insane. No sane person can believe all the contradictory nonsense he has spouted over the years.
Still, the AGW machine is self-feeding. Our peer review is in a sorry state. We will soon enough see that the earth goes on as it always has. Mother Nature is not mad at us. In fact she doesn't care in the least. When that big rock out there finally meanders into our orbital path, Mother Nature will take no note at all. The earth, and every other creature on it, cares nothing for the 99.9% of all species that are already extinct, nor will it care when that rock wipes out 99% of life on the planet then.
Americans have so many problems simply because they have no real problems. Please do not be part of the ultimate problem of destroying our freedoms and taxing us to death.
Do none of us realize that our air and our waters are cleaner this year than last? In fact, this is true since 1970 when the EPA began the records. Our regulations have far and again achieved their goals. We are now going beyond the useful, and we are expending effort and wasting energy pushing "clean" and "green" beyond reason. Our returns per unit expenditure are diminishing. We will soon be (probably already are) consuming our children to save our grandchildren, and if the cycle is not stopped, there will be no children to save.
Isn't it already obvious that the certain results of the proposed cure are worse than the purported results of the presumed and exaggerated disease? Overall warming of earth is good. Most species will adapt. More species will evolve than will go extinct. That is the way of the world. That is what nature does. Overall increases in carbon dioxide concentrations will ONLY increase plants, which will feed more insects and animals, and we will all be better off. Rising oceans are a boogieman. Even if they do, can people not move? Won't it be cheaper to wholesale move low-lying cities than to destroy our energy infrastructure for unproven and uneconomical schemes?
Know that those who will stifle energy production, be it even coal and nuclear energy, will be guilty of the blood of many innocent souls. Without the necessary power, our people will die in their beds of cold. They will die in our hospitals as blackouts leave our medical technology useless. Our children will die because we cannot get them food because our trucks and trains rust idle, without fuel.
There are no energy solutions. We simply must continue to invent and devise more efficient uses for what we already know. We must burn our coal for electrical generation. We must burn our natural gas in our homes and factories for direct heat, and we must use oil for our portable liquid fuels to keep transport running efficiently.
Note that while we have cleaned our air and waters every year since 1970, (again citing EPA statistics) we have also grown by over 200% in our industry, while our energy usage has hardly exceeded our population growth. How can this be? We seem to be only using more energy for more people, not for the more and more product we produce. It is because of efficiency gains. We do not make industry more efficient to meet some bureaucrat's arbitrary regulation. We increase efficiency to be more competitive, to drive down cost of operation and production. The free market works. Government does not.
The most inefficient way to do anything is with a bureaucratic government. Such a government is well and good when inefficiency can be counted on to guard against rashness as with legislation and the military. But inefficiency in general kills. It kills productivity, and it kills people, our people, our children.
Windmills are wonderful, but they are inefficient and still too uneconomical to be competitive in most applications. We are stealing from our future generations to drive this technology now before it can find its own way and prove itself on its own merit. Likewise biofuels. Burning our food for transportation fuel must be the most suicidal activity ever undertaken by the human race.
While I could include tomes explaining why the science is not settled, since we know so little about climate. I will conclude. Geosciences have no doubt about the role of temperature in earth history, and geosciences establish that earth is currently cold compared to its average temperature over the last two billion years or so. Still, it is by no means certain what will happen next, but I am certain that warmer is better than colder, and carbon dioxide, the life-giving molecule and essential ingredient to life, is in no way dangerous to human kind or any other creature on this earth.
I implore you to consider the children. Forcing energy policy through taxation and criminal penalty against what market forces dictate robs from our progeny and will constrict them to fewer options. We must build more power plants. We must use coal, and we must use nuclear fission. We must. The blood of the innocents will be on our hands if we do not provide enough power generation for them. Most of the world simply cannot be a tropical paradise, and even those few are being threatened by accidental exposure to foreign species.
Again, again, you will kill our children if you try to stop carbon dioxide production. Not only figuratively, but literally. Carbon dioxide taxes will hurt us all. Refusing food to a 1000 pound man may have its justifications, but it is still tyranny.
Ultimately, pain tends to be the only true persuader. Please, foresee the pain taxation and regulation on carbon dioxide will cause. See it now, so that we don't all have to pay the price and endure the real pain it will cause when we watch our children die in the freezing, dark operating room. Winter will never cease. It will still kill us when we cannot warm ourselves. We will still starve when we cannot transport our crops and livestock to where we need to eat.
We have sufficient fossil fuel for more than 100 years. We have nuclear fission for centuries. We will continue to invent and innovate and increase efficiencies. It is simply the way we are, the way we compete, the way we get ahead, the way we make our way in the world. Do not force what cannot be done. There is no controlling the elements of life unless we kill all the living. Isn't the point to save the living? Let us remember Hypocrites, "First, do no harm." We know turning off the power will do harm. We must acknowledge that trying to stop carbon dioxide will do more harm than any reasonable worst case scenario of increasing carbon dioxide.
Save our children. Never try to stop carbon dioxide through government fiat and heavy handed bureaucracy. Government stepping beyond its basic essentials always harms more than it helps. Government can never be efficient. It is not in its nature. The scorpion stings because it is a scorpion. Government oppresses because it is the governing power. Our founding father tried to control the beast, and it can probably not be done better, so do not thwart the controls. The controls are to be on the government, not we the people.
Reduce the EPA, not carbon dioxide. In the end, that will save our children.
Lonnie E. Schubert holds a BS, Metallurgical Engineering, and MS, Nuclear Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla.