More Stupidity on Climate Change May 20, 2009

More Stupidity on Climate Change

This post is by Jesse Galef, who works for the American Humanist Association

Ladies and gentlemen, for your daily dose of stupid, I give you Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) quotes explaining why he doesn’t want to do anything about greenhouse gasses (via Thinkprogress):

“I would also point out that CO2, carbon dioxide, is not a pollutant in any normal definition of the term.  It’s not hazardous to health, it’s naturally occurring.   I am creating it as I talk to you. It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water. It is necessary for human life. It is odorless, colorless, tasteless, does not cause cancer, does not cause asthma.”

“And something that the Democrat sponsors do not point out, a lot of the CO2 that is created in the United States is naturally created. You can’t regulate God. Not even the Democratic majority in the US Congress can regulate God.”

Let’s say that a neighbor were spraying lots of water on his lawn, day and night.  It’s ruining your garden, flooding your basement,  and causing mold and mosquitoes to spawn in the standing water.

Would you be comforted to hear him say, “Did you know that H2O is naturally occurring?  It’s in our Coca-Cola, is necessary for human life, is odorless, colorless, tasteless, does not cause cancer, and does not cause asthma!  Besides, rain is water, and we can’t regulate the rain!”

No, you would want him to turn off the damn sprinklers.

We know the harmful effects of greenhouse gasses.  No longer suppressed by the Bush administration, the E.P.A. recently declared that there was “compelling and overwhelming” evidence that greenhouse gasses “endanger public health and welfare.”

Barton also had this familiar gem:

“If you think greenhouse gases are bad, life couldn’t exist without greenhouse gases. … So, there is a, there is a climate theory — and it’s a theory, it’s not a fact, it’s never been proven — that increasing concentrations of CO2 in the upper atmosphere somehow interact to trap more heat than the atmosphere would otherwise.”

This man is the highest-ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.  Wonderful.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    From The Questionable Authority:

    “zOf course, they’ve not really given any explicit examples of that, because they can’t,” Barton says. “There’s never been anybody who’s been treated in an emergency room for CO2 poisoning. It doesn’t cause asthma; it doesn’t cause your eyes to water; it doesn’t cause cancer.

    It is in fact possible for carbon dioxide to reach life-threatening levels far before a lack of oxygen becomes a problem. And it happens. The technical name for this is “hypercapnia”.

  • TXatheist

    Another Texan making headlines…negative headlines.

  • chinaman

    oh lawd. i’m gonna sue him for brain damage! the pain is excruciating!!!

  • How could someone so ignorant ascend to the heights of power in one of two American political parties? Oh, that’s right, it’s the Republicans again.

    If Michael Steele wants to know how his party can be relevant again, they can start by removing teh stupid.

    Jesse, I loved your sprinkler example. I am using that in the future.

  • I was dismissive of his ignorance at first until I got to the last sentence…

    “This man is the highest-ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

    THAT makes this disturbing, frightening, and downright pathetic.

  • Golly gosh. Uranium 238 is a naturally occurring isotope, just like CO2 is a natural compound.

    So when can I step up to the counter and order my 5 Kg on U238?

  • bill

    weed is naturally occurring too, and according to this guy god created it, and we all know you can’t regulate god, but i doubt we’ll hear this guy trying to legalize it, unfortunately….

  • Todd

    I love the continued repetition of the

    it’s a theory, it’s not a fact

    argument. It seems like I’ve heard that in some other science….umm, evolution, maybe. How is the scientific definition of “theory” still not getting through?

  • It looks like there is lots of opportunity for positive change in Texas. Are there any moderate ex-athletes (or something) that might stand a change of being elected for something in Texas?

  • I tried to read this post, but I cracked up when I got to:
    “It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water.”
    Not sure where the typo came from, but it was still hilarious. I am Dr. Pepper.

  • Larry Huffman

    Well…a simple Google search (I knew the answers but still did the search just to make sure it was not a difficult search…it is not) will show that CO2 is dangerous and, in fact, quite deadly at any high levels. CO2 is what causes the bends in divers…it is toxic in any high quantities…and it is present in our atmosphere naturally at a level of 0.035%. Exposure to higher levels (3.3%) causes breathing problems and exposure to too high levels for short periods of time will permantnetly cause heart damage, among other things. FOr any long period of time, you just suffocate, as it displaces oxygen.

    His statements are assinine…and shows that far too many people in this country choose people to represent them who will echo their fairy tale views rather than people who are intelligent.

  • Richard Wade

    Representative Barton could very dramatically demonstrate the good effects of CO2 by placing a plasic bag over his head and securing it with a rubber band around his neck. Then all the rest of the Texas Legislature pinheads could see what we will all face if we continue to ignore this.

    Why is it that the stronger the connections politicians have with the fossil fuel industry, the greater their denial of the danger of greenhouse gasses? Must be just a coincidence.

  • Luther

    1) I guess waterboarding is ok since water is natural.

    2) I wonder if he is against GM foods? The essence of unnatural.

    3) And dare we mention gods, which have been proven to have been created by man. Or are they just a theory – with no proof yet whatsoever?

  • I wish Texas ( or Tejas as it would be known after Mexico took it over ), would secede. Goodbye, good riddens, and good luck — or wait, please take all the other ‘loons’ with you.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    CO2 is what causes the bends in divers

    The bends are mostly cause by nitrogen. Nitrogen makes up about 78% of our normal atmosphere.

    Depressurisation of the body causes excess inert gases, which were dissolved in body liquids and tissues while the body was under higher pressure, to come out of physical solution as the pressure reduces and form gas bubbles within the body. The main inert gas for those who breathe air is nitrogen. The bubbles result in the symptoms of decompression sickness.

  • This man is the highest-ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

    *banging my head on my desk*!

  • @JTorch

    “It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water.”
    Not sure where the typo came from, but it was still hilarious. I am Dr. Pepper.

    It’s a misquote from the old commercial:
    I’m a Pepper;
    he’s a Pepper;
    she’s a Pepper;
    if you drink Dr. Pepper, you’re a Pepper too?


  • Jasen777

    He’s my representative (unfortunately). At least he finally found something to take time out of his busy schedule of regulating college football.

  • Perhaps Representative Barton might be interested in a summer house overlooking Lake Nyos?

    But seriously, the plastic bag idea is good too.

  • Jamie

    To be fair, the evidence for CO2 being responsible for an increase in global temperature is significantly less compelling than the evidence for evolution.

    There is a large group of climate scientists that do not agree with “greenhouse gas induced climate change” and it is by no means an accepted fact.

    C’mon folks, are we the people who accept statements on faith or do we pride ourselves on examining the evidence objectively? I do not believe in a deity based on my determination of the evidence available. Using that same mechanism, I am not yet convinced either way by “human induced climate change”. The biggest producer of CO2 in the world is not China. It is not the US. It is, in fact the oceans.

    There are plenty of other compelling reasons to be frugal with the waste products that we create. Let’s not focus on a faith in one theory to the detriment of all the other reasons.

    I am slightly ashamed to be associated with some of the comments on this post when we level the same arguments of ignorance and dogma at those with faith in other things.

  • There is a large group of climate scientists that do not agree with “greenhouse gas induced climate change” and it is by no means an accepted fact.

    Could you please provide their names as well as links to peer reviewed research they’ve done.

    The biggest producer of CO2 in the world is not China. It is not the US. It is, in fact the oceans.

    The oceans are carbon dioxide sinks. “In fact” FAIL!!!

  • SteveG

    I think that while he’s producing carbon dioxide when talking to anybody he should be required to do it with his head enclosed in a plastic bag that has “my personal atmosphere” written on it. Preferably during a filibuster.

  • Jamie

    Oh you are a joy. I will accept your challenge for producing names. However your childish comments regarding CO2 and the oceans shows little understanding of the nature of the oceans’ role in storing and releasing CO2. I would refer you to this article I accept that this is not perhaps a balanced argument but given that you totally missed the point that I was making in my post and responded to me as an antagonist, I have chosen to play Devil’s advocate and argue contrary to your views. I will also accept that I was inaccurate in my use of the word “producer” when describing the oceans’ role in global CO2. Storer and releaser may have been a better term.

    A small Google gives me this lot to start you on your journey of discovery. I don’t necessarily expect you to agree with me but I do expect better from a so called “free-thinker” than to blithely accept the “inconvenient truth” without having investigated the underlying “facts”…

    From the wikipedia entry on “The Great Global Warming Swindle”;

    A number of academics, environmentalists, think-tank consultants and writers are interviewed in the film in support of its various assertions. They include the Canadian environmentalist Patrick Moore, founding member of Greenpeace but for the past 21 years a critic of the organisation; Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Patrick Michaels, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia; Nigel Calder, editor of New Scientist from 1962 to 1966; John Christy, professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at University of Alabama; Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute; the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson; and Piers Corbyn, a British weather forecaster.

    If you are seriously looking for peer reviewed articles, then following the links from some of those names will get you one your way. If you were not serious, then it was a petty attempt to undermine my argument and probably beneath you… :-p

  • llewelly


    There is a large group of climate scientists that do not agree with “greenhouse gas induced climate change” and it is by no means an accepted fact.

    In fact, there’s a list of them.
    Note how much misrepresentation it took to get ‘650’ names on the list.

  • zoo

    *Shakes head* Though it can be, natural is not equivalent to good or healthy.

    I bet you wouldn’t think it was a good idea to breathe water, even though that in its pure form is healthy, natural, a necessity for life, etc. I don’t know about yours, Joe, but my body produces CO2 as a waste product.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    This comic is appropriate here. 🙁

  • BlakKat

    If anyone cares to have a back and forth on this one, scientifically, I’m available. I actually am an atmospheric scientist, I have evaluated the data, I do not accept the theory blindly, and I will be back to check for responses….

  • SgtSkepper

    I really think republican politicians need to be told about the wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. CO2 not hazardous to health??? Try telling that to the people of Lake Nyos:

    Also on wikipedia, there’s a handy section on the carbon dioxide page entitled ‘toxicity’:

    I can’t help but think these people are actually wilfully stupid.

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