The Great Government CO2 Power Grab

The inevitable has happened.

The Obama government has declared CO2—a nutrient required by plants to live, and a gas exhaled with your every breath—a pollutant. Let there be rejoicing in the ranks of activists. Do what we say!

Now, when I say that what occurred was “inevitable” it means that there was nothing anybody could have done to stop the government from doing what it lusted to do.

No facts would have stopped them, no arguments, no evidence, no sober quantifications of uncertainty. This was going to happen as soon as Obama was elected.

Control is what was wanted and control is what was had.

The EPA, an agency of our ever-expanding government, has no direct electoral oversight, by which I mean there is nothing you or I or any ordinary citizen can do to influence any of its actions.

The president can influence it and occasionally rein in its excesses, as can congress indirectly, but we folk are out of the loop.

I say this to make you feel a little better if you are upset at this, unfortunately not unprecedented, move to add more governmental control of our lives. There was nothing you could have done except possibly have voted for McCain—and it’s not clear that that would have helped either.

So this EPA ruling was as natural an occurrence as CO2 being released in the breath of spotted owls in old growth forests.

Again, this was going to happen, it was unstoppable. But, just for the fun of it, I will tell you why it was the wrong thing to do.

Those That Care created this ruling because they are concerned that human-caused changes in climate will be deleterious. There are two components to this belief.

The first is that humans influence the climate. I have said many times that this is trivially true. It is only a question of how much we do so.

So how much of the change in climate is due to us and how much is natural? Nobody knows. No body, not even an international body of climate scientists. There are some guesses, mainly in the form of forecasts that say temperatures will rise dramatically. But those models’ predictions have, so far, been wrong in the sense that they say we should have been hotter than we have been.

But bad models that make wrong or unskillful predictions are certainly not a sufficiently powerful reason to restrain unavoidable bureaucratic zeal coupled to the belief that any change in anything (including climate) is some body‘s fault.

The second component is the most important part, so pay attention. It is the belief—and it is only a belief, a faith—that whatever changes in the climate that occur will be bad changes, or changes that will in some way be harmful to humans.

This is a belief because there is no direct evidence that shows climate change will be deleterious. There are scads of statistical studies that says that if the climate changes and if a laundry list of other conditions hold, then this or that bad thing will happen.

Understand: a changing climate itself is meaningless. The only interesting question is how that changing climate affects humans.

There have been hundreds, thousands, of studies that make guesses of how climate change will influence humans. The conclusions of these studies are statistical, and must be because by definition they are predictions. We have to wait and see whether these predictions are accurate. I can tell you that the level of statistical expertise in these publications has been poor at best and appalling at worst.

There is strong evidence of the investigator effect in these papers, which in these cases translates to an odd desire on the part of researchers to be the first to say how fast we are going to hell in a hand basket. My evidence for this is that there have been almost no studies that show any good thing that can happen in a warmer, more CO2 rich climate, and that it is impossible for there not to be good or helpful effects.

There is a hidden component here. Even if the climate changes significantly because of humans, and even if those changes might be harmful, then we must also believe that it will be impossible to avoid or mitigate the harm. We must believe that humans will not be able to effect a technological or economical solution to the problems we might face.

Now, if and only if all these things are true—if humans do significantly influence climate, and only harmful things can happen in a changed climate, and humans will be too stupid or will have no power to mitigate these harms—then the EPA has done the right thing.

Else it has done the wrong thing, which it obviously has.


  1. Robert

    If the EPA excercises this power to the full, we will have an economic collapse of monumental proportions.

    They have been given the power to regulate CO2 due to a judicial decision. The original intent of the law did not consider CO2 a pollutant.

  2. Joy

    Models do not make predictions or forecasts, they make projections. Given certain scenarios.
    And of course, why was this not made clear to non-climate modellers? Convenience? Oversight? Refusal to shoulder responsibility?
    Maybe because ”tacit knowledge gets lost in translation with climate modelling.”
    Never mind, The clever individuals that make statements like the above want to convince us that their expensive computer toy has shown that the theory of AGW has the support of rigorous science.
    That .3 degrees of warming in a planet 5bn years old in a record that is considered patchy or inaccurate, with it’s margins of error never made clear enough, is dangerous and unprecedented. Words cannot express my exasperation with these people.

    To analyse the situation to the levels that all climatologists do is to ignore this bare truth; add credibility to the nonsense claim and lets too many alarmists off the hook.
    When/if global temperature hits the ‘average line’ but CO2 is still going up, what will they say? They’ll blame China and India; maybe they’ll say nothing, because they’ll have introduced the laws, taxes and shifted power in the direction they desire so this fact will be irrelevant. Rather like the O-zone and acid rain affairs.

    Guilt and shame are very powerful political weapons, and it seems they have been used in this debate to excellent effect.
    Common sense and truth will prevail but they travel by tortoise.

  3. I think we all need to contact our U.S. Senator and Rep. to let them know our objections to this absolutely ridiculous proposal.

    Also, there is a 60 day public comment period following publication in the Federal Register.

    Here are instructions for submitting writen comments.

  4. Dave

    There is something missing from this post. While, certainly, many enviroNuts (see, e.g., Al Gore) run around claiming dire consequences (dieing polar bears, skyscrapers inundated by coastline) due to AGW there is a more fundamental idea in the envirocrede that holds. To those folks, any action by man has an effect and, in their belief system, every man-caused effect is bad. A few degrees warmth may create a human paradise with abundant crops grown worldwide. But that “we” caused that environment by our actions is necessarily evil. This holds, even if those conditions can be shown to have existed naturally in the past.

  5. MarkyMark

    It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.

  6. Schnoerkelman

    I’m sorry but I believe that you have made an error in your analysis.

    I believe the reason CO2 has been declared a pollutant is to enable the EPA to regulate it. To what extent the EPA then regulates the “pollutant” is another question altogether. I predict that it will have roughly the same effect that the regulation of automobile emissions did in the ’70s: a short term reduction at relatively high cost followed by extreme lobbying, gnashing of teeth, and other horrific things followed by Congress effectively gutting the regulation (think SUVs).

    This decision will not, of and in itself, bring the end of the free world as we know it nor make the Government all encompassing. Why is it that with one breath we all seem to decry the uselessness of government and with the next go off explaining why this or that decision means the end of civilization?

    I must be getting old but I’m growing very weary of all the doomsday talk surrounding Obama’s actions. He was elected by a clear majority of the people to do certain things that they believe are important. His doing them will not bring the end of the world any more than G. W. Bush did.

    It seems to me that everyone involved in this debate is far to certain of their position and that anyone that disagrees must be a Tool of the Devil. My advice: chill out and enjoy life a bit more, you only get one as far as I’m informed.


  7. Kevin Jackson

    Regulation of CO2 is essentially a tax on any businesses that produce CO2. It’s more paperwork, inspections, modifications, whatever, just to do the same thing they were doing before. Except that’s not fair. At least a tax, while taking money from businesses, gives money to government, where they can do something with it (however foolish). Regulation is going to take money from businesses, and turn it into nothing.

    So, Schnoerkelman, no, it won’t be the end of the free world, and it won’t make Government all-encompassing. But it is going to increase the cost of doing business for many industries. It will divert resources (ie, labor) from production to busywork, at a team when the economy desperately needs production. That’s both bad and stupid.

  8. Tom

    This post reads like a propaganda. It reminds me of the time when the Republicans pushed against the regulation of second hand smoke.

  9. Andrew

    Tom-right, because it really is Uncle Sam’s biz what stupid things people do to themselves, isn’t it? Like smoking or spend to much time around smokers. Thank goodness the good ol’ Federal Government is here to protect people from their own stupidity. I don’t know what we would do without them!

  10. Frank

    According to the EPAs press release
    “Eight of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.” How can this be? There has been no warming since 1998. Not only are their findings suspect, their claims are downright false. There is absolutely no doubt that the EPA is actually disregarding the science.

  11. Briggs

    No good, Tom. You have to say why this post is like propaganda for your criticism to carry any weight. Say something intelligent and then we can talk.

    Frank. Gee.

    Schnoerkelman. But the point of the entire post is about the government power grab. I neglect specificities because they are too dreary.

    Joy. A “projection” is a forecast. There is no disguising it with a euphemism. If the IPCC isn’t making forecasts, then what they say isn’t useful for making decisions. (Of course, you know this.)

    Dave. Certainly there is a religious aspect to activism. I put it down to mankind’s shift to cities. The country-side and man-free wilds are growing in the activist imagination as Edens. Purity can be restored! All that need be done is to eliminate humans. Then they world will be a better place for people.

  12. Briggs,

    Surely Tom means that once again the EPA is taking an action based upon politics rather than science. My projections show a 93.41% certainty that he simply forgot his sarcasm tags, probably due to rising man made CO2 levels, which is practically a man caused disaster.

  13. Doug Lavers

    The length of the current sunspot cycle, and the absolute paucity of sunspots, already presages a major planetary cooling episode.

    The EPA, a large number of politicians and associates, and an even larger number of scientists who ought to have known better are likely to shortly discover they have been barking at the wrong tree. Perhaps rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would be a better metaphor.

    Their credibility will likely be destroyed. Pity about the economic damage which will have been done in the meantime. I hope the above mentioned groups are included in the extra unemployed.

    Heaven help us if the sun remains almost spotless for a further extended period.

  14. Andrew

    All GOP propaganda Matt, nothing but propaganda. /sarcasm

  15. kuhnkat


    would you please go back and check the polling data and restate that sentence where you tell us that Obama was elected by a clear MAJORITY of the people!!!!!

    Is that all the people?? All the people of voting age?? All the people of voting age who are legally entitled to vote?? All the people who are registered to vote??

    I think you will find that Obama was elected by a majority of the people who voted whether they fall into one of the above categories or not. I also think you will find that, like numerous presidents before him, he may not have even had a majority of those REGISTERED to vote!!!!

    There is an old saying I used to love. It was, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    Sadly, modern politics proves that you only need to fool a majority of the VOTERS on election day and then only if there isn’t someone to split the opposition vote!!!! (see Clinton and Bush II)

    Let’s not start a discussion on the miseducated children who filled out Obama’s “majority”.

  16. Demesure

    Obama has been elected by an electorate which places climate change at the bottom of its list of concerns. What he is doing is to reverse the priorities. It’s at best a mistep, at worse a betrayal.

  17. Tom Davidson

    The single thing at which Homo sapiens excels, far beyond even our predecessor species, is adaptation. Unfortunately, this option seems to be neglected in virtually all discussions of the effects on climate change on humanity.

  18. Uzi

    Our Trans-nationalist President has taken the UN bait; the hook is set. His administration is working 24/7 to kowtow to the UN and the EU (little difference between those two). The EU has embraced regulating CO2 from power plants, vehicles etc. not aiming at climate change; instead they are aiming to hobble the economic power of the US. Their strategy is working very well.

    If you have watched or read any news you know Obama’s plan is to spend boatloads of money on bailouts and his new budget. He intends to pay for most of these expenditures through sky high taxes on energy coupled with carbon cap and trade. Increasing income tax
    will follow. Soon we will be just like the Europeans, almost all our income will go to taxes.

    Americans have little choice in this Obama squeeze play, either accept the hammer of legislation or the hammer of regulation. This is a power play pure and simple. Get ready for mega inflation, the price of every form of carbon based energy will skyrocket!

  19. David C.

    The biggest danger to our economic and political system stems from the inevitable destruction of scientific credibility which will occur when the climate trends follow their natural course. What do you think the population will conclude when science, or at least climate science, has to pull an Emily Latella, “Oh, never mind”. Do you suppose that after having spent years, of not decades and billiions, to reduce carbon foot print, the general populaiton will be pleased to learn that it matters not?

    I shudder to think of their reaction when science brings the next issue forward, one that might actually present a real hazard.

    David C.

  20. Ray

    RE “regulation of second hand smoke”

    All based on another fradulent EPA study. Sort of like the EPA declaring DDT a carcinogen despite the lack of evidence.

  21. Joy

    Tom Davidson,
    “The temperature will go up!”
    Temperature goes down,
    “When we said UP, we meant down…”
    “For ten years…”
    “Rather, about thirty years”
    That’s adaptation!

  22. Doug M

    We knew this was coming…

    I fear the negative economic consequences of the $3.7 trillion budget; the one that will cut the deficit in half in ten years after quadrupling it in the 1st. While CO2 regulation will have its negative affects, every sector of economy (healthcare, finance, manufacturing) will see substantial increases in regulation, anyway.

    Kuhnkat and Demesure,
    Obama was chosen by a majority of electors, who in turn are chosen by the people of their respective states. It doesn’t really matter what %age of the eligible population votes.

    David C,
    When we fail to realize the devastation that global warming alarmists have forecast, the alarmists will do what cults do when the prophesized Armageddon is averted. They will tell the world that it was only because of their diligent work that we are still alive.

  23. Bruce Foutch

    Pretty soon we will all have to buy flatulence offsets. This will be followed with the levying of a “gas” tax on burritos (the burrito grande will be double taxed). I don’t even want to speculate of what measures will be imposed to protect non-burrito eaters from second-hand effects…

    Also, if you missed this tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 2007:

    “You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

    This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

    Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.” CONNIE M. MESKIMEN, Hot Springs

  24. chuck in st paul

    Doug M has it right. These Useful Idiots will do the classic two-step on this and claim that their mighty efforts averted the disaster, but that we’ve only just held it off for the moment.

    So… “Give us the money! or you’re all going to die!!”

    And… “You all need to die to save Mother Gaia! Die humans, die!”

    Nutjobs, one and all.

  25. Mark

    There have been studies that show positive benefits from global warming (or at least extra carbon dioxide) but they are phrased in a way to make it seem scary. Three years ago a study on plants showed improved plant health. It was widely reported. The scary part was that the study looked at poison ivy. The same study could have shown benefits to corn or wheat but that would make carbon dioxide seem beneficial.
    Here is an example of what was reported.

  26. Briggs


    There is danger in satire. Serious discussion has been given to cow farts.

    David C.

    If this happens, then global warming won’t be claimed for the globe but for localities. It is the case—it must be the case, mathematically—that some places will be hotter than average. Some will be colder, too, but these can be ignored. Let’s claim that we’re still worried about those higher.



  27. Bruce Foutch


    I am aware of the the cow fart discussions, but for those who aren’t, her is the science:

    Check out the photo! When cows turn on humans we will know the reason.

    And, here is the cure:

    Or, we need a car that runs on methane, a really long hose, and a willing herd of cows.

    No satire can even come close to the insanity of reality.

  28. Greg Cavanagh

    Surely comparing anything to an “average” value is a pointless exersize in any field of science. But placing a cost to those things either side of the average demonstates a lack of understanding.

  29. JA

    all of this because of a hockey stick!

  30. kuhnkat

    Doug M,

    as the last step in the PROCESS you are correct, BUT, You must include the voting in the primaries as part of the process that selects the Electoral College.

    Those young’uns DID have an effect in the Primaries and thus on the selection of the Electoral College who made the final decision!!!!!

  31. Hey Now. I voted for Obama and am not ashamed of it. As the man said, no matter what, the EPA was probably going to do this. What get me is that I have been an outdoorsman, birder, etc etc etc all my life and now “the cure” is literally thousands and thousands of windmills in my state of Pa. Next week there is a meeting to put 80 windmills in Potter County, what we call God’s Country, do you think it will be that anymore? Can someone stop this MADNESS!

  32. Briggs


    Sometimes madness has to run its course.

  33. Sam Baines

    I find it interesting in all these discussions that the global warming team never states what the planets average temperature is supposed to be. Why do suppose that is? If these “experts” can’t tell us what the temperature will be on average next year, why should we trust them to predict temperatures longer term?

  34. Chuck Smith

    Hey, as I understand it, wetlands emit (sp?) a significant amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Maybe we should start filling in and eliminating these wetlands. We could plant trees in the filled in areas, and they would serve as carbon sinks. Instead of permitting the decay of vegitation in the forests, we could collect all of the stuff and use it to fill in the wetlands. Also, since all those pesky animals breath out CO2, we could start eliminating species in wholesale to reduce the emissions. Why should humans have to reduce their emissions any more than nature? Of course, if humans eliminated all of their emissions, there would be no humans. My god, people, they are even talking of limiting the number of children a couple could have, because of the exhalations over their lifetimes that children make.

  35. TCO

    I’m not in favor of this action…but the skeptic movement is full of jokes. A bunhc of old warhorses, cranks, and amateur wannabes. Most of them prattling off with all kinds of longwinded crap.

    I just tortured myself by trying to listen to Heartland Institute recordings. None of those guys publish much. They just hang out together and prattle. Probably holding each other’s cranks.

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