- - Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with its proposed regulations on stationary coal plants, continues to discourage the use of fossil fuels, owing to their release of long-sequestered carbon dioxide.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court is taking a hard look at whether its own decisions justify allowing the EPA to regulate stationary energy-producing facilities.

The assertion of a catastrophic warming impact by carbon dioxide is based on unvalidated climate-computer models and not real observations or the historical relationship of Earth’s temperature and atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels. In adhering to this assertion, the administration is turning its back on the astonishing plant growth and life-saving benefits to Earth’s atmosphere of additional carbon dioxide.

Doesn’t everyone want robust habitats and ecosystems, bountiful food crops, lush forests and grasslands? The good news is that it is already happening. Humanity has been running a real, worldwide experiment for 150 years, and it’s paying dividends. Mother Nature is responding positively to our real-life, albeit inadvertent, efforts.

What am I talking about? Human beings have been fertilizing Earth’s greenery worldwide. Nitrogen-based fertilizer does not get spread in the vast forests, but it does run into the rivers and oceans with very negative effects. Humans have been raising the level of carbon dioxide, which has no negative effect on any plant or animal life. There is no instance of carbon dioxide being a pollutant — just ask any chemistry professor. Carbon dioxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless. The vapors shown billowing from the various smoke stacks are not carbon dioxide, although some may be present. The media imply that the colorful emissions they show is carbon dioxide pollution.

Since the gas is not a pollutant, what impact does it have? As we learned in the third grade, carbon dioxide is what plants eat. The more of it they eat, the faster and larger they grow, including food crops. It is also a mild greenhouse gas that helps warm the Earth somewhat. Most plants also respond favorably to a modest warming. More moisture is contained in reasonably warm air than in cold, dry air, so plants benefit from all three key ingredients: food, water and warmth.

During the past 150 years, human industry has raised the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide by nearly 40 percent. Measurable observations of Earth’s greenness have not been available for this entire time, but we do know several important things: NASA satellite sensors have been measuring Earth’s greenness for three decades. Despite people constructing roads and buildings everywhere in sight, and even clear-cutting vast swaths of rain forests, Earth is getting greener and greener. Also, real experiments by the world’s agricultural community, not unvalidated model projections, clearly show the astonishing impact of more atmospheric carbon dioxide. Lastly, real experiments also show the significant withering effect on plants as carbon-dioxide levels are reduced.

Despite all this empirical data on the lack of impact of carbon dioxide on climate and its astounding benefit to habitats, ecosystems and food supply, the misled environmental alarmists continue to ratchet up their negative campaign against this life-giving gas. The revealing part of their story is that the climate catastrophe they project is coming from computer models that even the authors have to admit are unproven and not reliable for making intermediate or long-term forecasts.

A team of retired, extremely analytical NASA scientists who are no longer under the influence of the current administration have posted information refuting the alarmist fallacies on a website, therightclimatestuff.com. These scientists are unpaid volunteers, many with doctorates, and have an astounding record of success in sending astronauts to the moon and bringing them back.

The Supreme Court should block the Obama administration’s efforts to use the EPA as a weapon to implement its radical environmental agenda. This sad episode of ignoring actual, empirical data in favor of inaccurate computer models must give way to an effort to truly green the Earth.

H. Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist and chairman of plantsneedco2.org.