How Ads Mistake the Phenomenon of Global Warming

In case you aren’t familiar with the Climate Enterprise Institute, CEI is a group that has doggedly fought political action on climate change and has released numerous ads and videos in the past that are incredibly misleading.

So today, we’d like to present “How Anti-Climate Ads Mistake the Science 101”:

Here’s one example of a 2006 CEI ad on CO2 that portrays the gas as “harmless”, something we breathe out every day. To emphasize this point, the video is cleverly peppered with innocuous images of children playing jump-rope, a little girl blowing on a dandelion, charismatic megafauna… the works.

The obvious message here? CO2 is something we naturally expel! It helps plants grow! Those environmental advocates must be crazy to suggest we put a cap on our national CO2 emissions!

This isn’t a new message. Let’s see what Michelle Bachmann had to say on the subject on the House floor in 2009.
“Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that’s on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that — that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.”

All very true, Michelle.

But she goes on to conclude, “carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle.”

Let’s try to look past the absurdity and be clear: No one is trying to institute a breathing quota. The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere matters and thanks to sources like fossil fuel emissions, we’re tipping the scale in a dangerous direction. It is true that the CO2 is naturally removed from the atmosphere by various natural processes, but we’re adding lots and lots of extra CO2 and we’re not getting rid of any. I like to think of the bathtub analogy: if a large enough volume of water is coming out of the faucet, it doesn’t matter if the drain is open- the tub will still overflow! Basic principles of mass-balance apply to climate change, too (shocking, I know).

So here’s a video by Bill Nye the Science Guy explaining Climate Change 101. Perhaps it will help clear up some of the confusion… I just wish the folks at CEI would watch it.

Climate 101 from Dark Igloo on Vimeo.

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