Hiram Perry: We Need More CO2, Not Less

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Hiram Perry: We Need More CO2, Not Less

10/16/98Science Matters! (So Does Truth And Common Sense)
by Hiram Perry
We Need More CO2, Not Less
I've just attended a meeting on global warming at the University of Maine; so many of those attending were brilliant people with degrees right up to doctorates. The commitment to the EPA's global warming initiative is alarming and almost total at the University, and, of course, the DEP and the state planning group in Augusta.In fact, at a September 2 meeting of this group, Don Anderson, from our own DEP, opened the meeting by telling the group "Global warming is a fact, we will go on to another topic". That very statement outraged some at the meeting who had other viewpoints on this subject. They shouldn't have been surprised, however; such arrogance on an environmental subject is very common. When DEP or EPA speak on a favorite subject, the only viewpoint to prevail is theirs.The first error made by those who think global warming is here, or will be in the very near future, is to regard CO2 as the chief greenhouse gas. It isn't; it is not even close. Water vapor is the chief greenhouse gas. When one attends meetings, as I do, on global warming, CO2 is discussed as the great problem, to the extent that an uninformed person might come away regarding CO2 as a dirty pollutant. It isn't, of course, and those billing it as the chief greenhouse gas may not want you to think of it as a pollutant, but they do bill it that way.Of course, it isn't! CO2 is necessary to all food and crop production. The cycle is so simple - and is known to any educated person. People, animals and our very activities for heating our houses to driving cars, produce CO2 in vast quantities. This CO2 is than taken up as a plant food (which it really is) and it is absolutely essential to plant growth.Of course, those who espouse the global warming initiative, think we have too much CO2. It's their key argument. One of the most highly respected scientists on the subject is Dr. Pat Michaels at the University of Virginia. He has told me "We may not have enough CO2 for optimum plant growth". Mankind is so often blamed for how he has ruined forests, how poorly he handles soil, how he is not in step with important environmental concerns. When anyone tells you this, it merely reveals terrible ignorance of what has been going on in the world for centuries. Our very life, our standard of living, our food and houses, everything we need and use, we've created by recycling carbon from the earth, first into CO2, then into food production and forests. Restrict CO2 production, restrict this cycle of taking carbon from the soil and creating CO2 from it and you can easily restrict food and fiber production.Dr. Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, puts it this way. "The more hydrocarbons we mine, the more our natural environment will prosper. Coal, oil and natural gas are turned into CO2; in turn CO2 is used to create plants and part of these plants are used to make animal and human food, an environmental gift from the human industrial revolution".And now about forests, viewed by environmentalists as great sources of CO2. They say "We must keep those trees standing; otherwise we will release that CO2". Do you know all the varied production we get from trees, besides paper and lumber? I didn't until I started to study the situation. It starts with photographic film, recording tape, rayon, acetates, food stabilizers, fragrances, eyeglass frames, football helmets, medicines and cosmetics, to give you a short list.What about the future? What about our growing population? I'm told we will have about 50 million more people in the US by 2025. And lots more elsewhere in the world. In talks I've heard on CO2 restrictions, I've heard nothing about our need for an expanding food and forest production. It looks to me like we are going to need more CO2, not less.Hiram Perry writes on environmental, agricultural and other scientific topics for various Maine publications. Contact Hiram Perry by phone (234-2790) or email perry@uninets.net