A Republican member of Utah's Legislature has introduced a bill to curb the state’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Rep. Jerry Anderson, a retired science teacher, told a committee on Tuesday that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would pose no harmful consequences.
In fact, to support his cause, Anderson said that when dinosaurs walked the Earth, the level of CO2 concentrate was at 600 parts per million and “they did quite well,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
“We are short of carbon dioxide for the needs of the plants,” he said.
The bill further clarified that the meaning of the term “air contaminants” to state that it should exclude “natural components of the atmosphere, including nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and other noble gases, water vapor, steam, and carbon dioxide in amounts less than 500 parts per million, or any combination of them.”
Anderson’s belief is contrary to current science. According to a study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, which was reported in Science Daily, trees and other type of plants help cool the planet. However, increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere “are turning down this global air conditioner.” Researchers also found that more than a quarter of the warming because of higher levels of carbon dioxide is a result of its direct impact on plants. It is a “heat-trapping greenhouse gas,” scientists say.
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The Tribune article quotes Joe Andrade, a retired engineering professor at the University of Utah, who said carbon levels at the amount suggested by the legislator would drastically warm the Earth and acidify the oceans. He added that since we started burning fossil fuels we’ve been on a path to doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“We can all see the chaotic weather that it has already produced,” Andrade said. “It’s not toxic to you and me below concentrations of 1,000 or 2,000 [parts per million], but it’s toxic to this planet. Setting an arbitrary upper limit, that is out of the bounds of anything related to planetary stability, is simply bad government.”