Today’s ClimateWire (subscription required) carries an analysis by reporter Lauren Morello that begins:
Say goodbye to “greenhouse gases.” Say hello to “carbon pollution” and “heat-trapping gases.”
Morello observes a shift in the vocabulary U.S. government officials are using to talk about global warming — a change much in evidence in President Obama’s climate speech yesterday at the U.N.
Obama officials increasingly avoid the non-pejorative (although somewhat metaphorical) term “greenhouse gas” to describe carbon dioxide and instead refer to “carbon pollution” and “heat-trapping gases.”
Morello quotes NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco’s explanation that these terms are emphasized to “make what’s happening more understandable and more accessible to non-technical audiences.”
Fortunately, she also quotes CEI’s Myron Ebell, who cuts to the chase: “The cleverest thing that the global warming alarmists have done is to categorize carbon dioxide emissions as pollution, because it’s not true.”
The Obama administration’s shift to this terminology is actually way behind the green bamboozle curve. Al Gore repeatedly called carbon dioxide “global warming pollution” in his 2006 film and book, An Inconvenient Truth. Major environmental groups have been denouncing “greenhouse pollution” and “global warming pollution” for years.
The Supreme Court takes the cake, however, deciding in Massachusetts v. EPA (April 2007) that carbon dioxide is an “air pollutant” merely by virtue of the fact that it is “emitted into” the air. By that logic, even zero-pollution, completely clean air is an “air pollutant,” provided it is “emitted.”
This sort of terminological confusion is not harmless. By defining CO2 as an “air pollutant” merely because it is “emitted,” the Court set the stage for a gigantic regulatory chain reaction under the Clean Air Act that could easily dwarf Waxman-Markey and the Kyoto Protocol in cost and scope, as I explain here.
If Lubchenco really wants to demystify the climate debate, she might start by describing CO2 more accurately. Here’s my pick: “a plant-fertilizing, biosphere-greening, colorless, odorless, non-polluting, trace gas.”