Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2010

NO ONE IS TRYING TO ELIMINATE CARBON.... The conservative efforts in the Senate to cut the EPA off at the knees continues apace. The current ringleader, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska, held a press conference yesterday to justify her ridiculous scheme, and Kate Sheppard was there. Her report included this gem:

It doesn't help [Murkowski's] case that the press conference she called on the measure Tuesday featured some of the Senate's all-stars of climate denial.... There was Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, who noted that, "Without carbon, my trees would die. Carbon occurs naturally."

Willful stupidity like this is not as rare as it should be. Just last year, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) explained during a House committee hearing that it would be wrong to reduce carbon emissions because the pollution is "plant food." Shimkus rhetorically asked his colleagues, "[I]f we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere?"

Neither Bond nor Shimkus were kidding. They're actually this dumb.

It's probably worth noting a few details that even blisteringly stupid lawmakers should be able to understand.

First, we're currently pumping about 90 million tons of carbon emissions into the air per day. This creates the conditions that lead to global warming, and the seriousness of the crisis continues to get worse. Kit Bond's trees do not need 90 million tons of carbon to survive.

Second, yes, carbon "occurs naturally." But when factories, engines, and industries generate 90 million tons of carbon a day, this isn't "natural."

And third, while the far-right's concern for trees is heartening, no one is trying to eliminate carbon. The goal is to reduce emissions, not ban one of the most abundant elements in the known universe. Plant life existed before the Industrial Revolution, and plant life will thrive even if cap-and-trade becomes law.

The crisis is real, and the need for a grown-up debate is overwhelming. One wonders when the electorate might send lawmakers to Congress who are up for the task.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

There are professional exams needed to be a Doctor, pilot, lawyer, etc. I know it goes against the gonzo pseudopopulist type democratic spirit, but it's high time we had an entrance exam for Congress. It would cover math, science, law, critical thinking, etc. Evil smarter people would still get in, but not produce such absolute, blatant claptrap.

Posted by: Neil B on June 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

If "food is good" and "more is better," then why wouldn't Sen. Bond be happy to have a 15,000-calorie-per-day diet force-fed to him?

Posted by: ColoZ on June 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Nitrogen and phosporus are also plant food. It doesn't follow that Chesapeake Bay is improved by receiving both in abundance.

Posted by: David Martin on June 9, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should fill Kit Bond's office and home floor to ceiling with water. Then explain that: "Without water you'll die!"

Posted by: chrenson on June 9, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

The goal is to reduce emissions, not ban one of the most abundant elements in the known universe.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." --Harlan Ellison

And it would be easier to ban hydrogen.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

You hammered the nail on the head with this line:

"One wonders when the electorate might send lawmakers to Congress who are up for the task."

That in a nutshell is what is wrong with this country. We have basically a very immature and ignorant electorate. And now the religious right has permeated almost all aspects of society which makes this much worse. Jut look to Texas for evidence.

Posted by: citizen_pain on June 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Steve you are a poop face. Debates are for losers. You need to grow up because everyone knows Democrats wear diapers and pee their pants at the sight of terrorists. It's like common knowledge. It is just as Golden God Reagan said "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."

Posted by: Frank Chow on June 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Plant life existed before the Industrial Revolution, and plant life will thrive even if cap-and-trade becomes law."

We can't be sure. We might have already put so much carbon into the air that the earth is already doomed to become the twin planet to Venus where nothing will survive.

Posted by: neil wilson on June 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I know it goes against the gonzo pseudopopulist type democratic spirit, but it's high time we had an entrance exam for Congress. -Neil B

Well, that's what a campaign and an election are for, but it is not the Congressperson failing the exam, but rather the American people.

Posted by: doubtful on June 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

As we said on the street:

"There ain't no cure for stupid!"

However overwhelming public opposition has been known to shut up the dumbest dumb ass in elective office.

Today's Times has an important analysis showing that overwhelmingly the American people get it on climate change:

"When senators vote on emissions limits on Thursday, there is one other number they might want to keep in mind: 72 percent of Americans think that most business leaders do not want the federal government to take steps to stop global warming. A vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived by the nation as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people."

Jon A. Krosnick is a professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/opinion/09krosnick.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

Posted by: robert on June 9, 2010 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

If you don't believe in evolution, then you are a fossil fool.

Such fossil fools should not be allowed to burn/use fossil fuels, ever.

Carbon dioxide is also out-gassed by volcanoes, so humans aren't soley responsible for adding it to the atmosphere.

But humans are responsible for destroying carbon-sinks, like rainforests and oceans.

We live in an era where information overload seems to actually

create superstitious fools versus scientific skeptics.

What's next? Democrats against carbon want to take your diamonds away (and your pencils!).

WTF?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on June 9, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Kit Bond's trees do not need 90 million tons of carbon to survive.'

His trees also do not need the sulfuric and sulfurous, nitric, and nitrous acids that are part of fossil fuel pollution.

And none of those chemicals existed in earth’s ecosystem, to the extent that they do today, 6000 years ago when God made Adam and put him in the non-polluted, styrofoam trash, cigarette butt free garden of Eden.

Posted by: Marnie on June 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I second what chrenson said...to add my own water observation, just because it's good for you doesn't mean it's good to get blasted with water from a fire hose...

Posted by: Michael on June 9, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders when the electorate might send lawmakers to Congress who are up for the task.

Never. The Idiocracy has been ascendant in this country for more than 10 years, and its final victory is at hand. Nothing can stop the Republicans in this question to destroy the human race.

Posted by: Alan on June 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

This logic is quite useful. Oil is natural, so why are we trying to clean it out of the gulf? Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral. Why are you worried about drinking it?

Posted by: Mike on June 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders when the electorate might send lawmakers to Congress who are up for the task.

Well, no one wanted to regulate the mortgage and financial industries -- despite a number of experts warning about a bubble and unregulated, risky trading -- until the whole thing imploded and millions of people lost their homes and savings. And even then the industry was powerful enough to produce mostly a watered down bill that doesn't do much. So until millions are facing the immediate results of drought, destitution, disease and hunger, there probably isn't going to be much willingness to do something about global warming. Of course, unlike the financial collapse, once the political will is finally there to do something, it will be too late.

So we're basically screwed.

Posted by: jonas on June 9, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Let's remember that (generally speaking) carbon is neither created nor destroyed here on this sweet Earth. The carbon we have is/was already here, it's just a matter of its location and chemical form. These dumbkopf senators seem to think carbon is produced and consumed like beer. They obviously haven't heard of the "carbon cycle". They probably don't think much about biology or geology, beyond what they learned in Sunday School.

Posted by: GP on June 9, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

On reflection, I don't think even these wankers are *that* stupid. Rather, todays' Rebaglican party is distinguished by pandering to America's stupidest and most superstitious citizenry. That is a key bloc of their base, and how base indeed.

Posted by: Neil B on June 9, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

neil wilson: "We might have already put so much carbon into the air that the earth is already doomed to become the twin planet to Venus where nothing will survive."

Surely you exaggerate. As GP says, carbon is part of a closed cycle. Before it was sequestered as hydrocarbons, it was in the biosphere during the Paleozoic, which was not as inhospitable as Venus.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 9, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"One wonders when the electorate might send lawmakers to Congress who are up for the task."

When opposing lawmakers make them look and feel as stupid as they really are. If these types of statements don't get viscerally slammed by the opposition, there's no penalty for making them. Voters have to start feeling embarrassment for having such imbeciles represent them.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 9, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with the Tree Huggers on this.

And I think it is time to ban carbon paper.

Posted by: DAY on June 9, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Just last year, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) explained during a House committee hearing that it would be wrong to reduce carbon emissions because the pollution is "plant food." Shimkus rhetorically asked his colleagues, "[I]f we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere?"

I'm a bit disappointed that none of the other commenters here seemed to have picked up on my efforts to rebrand the GOP as the FIP --- the Fuckin' Idiot Party. Given that idiotic statements like this are par for the course for elected FIP officials, I'm at a loss to understand why the new label hasn't caught on.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 9, 2010 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Guess that means rape should be legalized because sex is a natural act and if we don't keep breeding the human race will die out.

Dear God please don't let my baby girl grow up to be, marry, or trust a Republican.

Posted by: slappy magoo on June 9, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kit Bond is on his way out. Sadly he is going to be replaced by the odious Roy Blunt. The Democratic establishment in running a princess who thinks she is going to be crowned so she hardly campaigning. What is her name anyway? Bluebird or something like that. She is a worse campaigner than her mother.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 9, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should remind the ignorant shit that not only would his trees die without carbon but that his stupid ass would also which might not be as much of a loss as his trees would be

Posted by: grandpajohn on June 9, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

no one is trying to eliminate carbon.

I am. Looks like that clever Kit Bond figured me out and blew my cover. I'm an advance scout from a small planet on the other side of the galaxy. we need more carbon to survive, and we we're planning on taking all of yours. drats, foiled again.

Posted by: zeitgeist on June 9, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Chow: just to set the record straight, it wasn't St. Ronnie that said trees cause pollution, it was James Watts; who was (wait for it, now) Reagan's Secretary of the Interior!
A rehearsal, perhaps?

Posted by: Doug on June 9, 2010 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kit Bond really is this dumb. But John Shimkus took my mom's MBA accounting class and was not remarked on as being any dumber than average.

Posted by: 4jkb4ia on June 9, 2010 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

What I would like is to sit down and have a couple of drinks with these idiot's staff members and see how stupid the Senators and Congressmen really are. I think we are only seeing a small portion of their stupidity.

Posted by: BETH on June 9, 2010 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

While it may be true that these are stupid politicians by comparison to others, they are not so stupid that they can't see the absurdity of this argument.

They are liars, taking advantage of the stupidity of their *constituents*. These people need to be in prison for their betrayal of their country and those whom they manipulate. End of discussion.

Posted by: JTK on June 9, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a difference between carbon and carbon dioxide?

Posted by: QED on June 10, 2010 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Is there a difference between carbon and carbon dioxide?"
Posted by: QED on June 10, 2010 at 4:18 AM

Yes.
It's confusing, because in these contexts, the term "carbon" (and terms like "carbon emissions," "carbon tax," etc) is used as a shorthand for "carbon dioxide," one of the greenhouse gases whose large-scale emissions by human industry and life in general constitute a serious threat to the overall climate of the planet.
But carbon is itself an element, and carbon dioxide is a compound of carbon and the element oxygen.
One reason that carbon dioxide is so prevalent in biologic and industrial processes is that the element carbon is one of the essential elements in organic chemicals -- which encompass not only us, but the fossil fuels of oil, gas, and coal.
A quote from wikipedia on carbon: "This abundance, together with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life" (emphasis added).
Further data:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon

Posted by: smartalek on June 10, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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