Environment

Sen. James Inhofe: CO2 Buildup Has Led To "Greening Of The Planet"

Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma took to the Senate floor Wednesday to pushback against the Obama administration's continued efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, calling climate change activists "alarmists," specifically accusing them of overlooking the positive aspects of CO2 on the world's plants. 

"Counter to the doomsday predictions of climate alarmists, increasing observations suggest a much reduced and practically harmless climate response to increased amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide," Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said. "Also missing from the climate alarmists' doomsday scenarios and well-scripted talking points are the benefits from increased carbon that has led to a greening of the planet and contributed to increased agricultural productivity."

Inhofe's remarks came the same day that US scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the world's CO2 levels have reached a grim new benchmark, exceeding 400 parts per million, a first since record-keeping began. Climate activists say that 350 ppm is the threshold, and anything higher brings the risk of substantial and irreversible effects of a warming planet. 

"Above 350, we are at a constant risk of crossing other, even worse, thresholds, the ones that govern the reliability of monsoons, the availability of water from alpine glaciers, the acidification of the ocean, and, perhaps most spectacularly, the very level of the seas," Bill McKibben, who co-founded the group 350.org, told Mother Jones in 2008. "To be human in 2008 is to rise in defense of the planet we have known and the civilization it has spawned," he added. 

Now, with the global average above 400 ppm, the need for a public consciousness is even more dire, according to experts. "It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally," NOAA researcher Pieter Tans said in a statement, adding that the number began to appear in the most quickly warming areas, like the Arctic, in 2012. The Mauna Loa Observatory, in Hawaii, creeped past 400 the following year. "Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone," Tans said. 

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Inhofe was right to point out that plants really do consume CO2––in fact, it's one of the reasons there are lower levels of gas in the green, summer months. "People do not realize that you cannot grow things without CO2," he said. "CO2 is a fertilizer. It is something you cannot do without. No one ever talks about the benefits that people are inducing that as a fertilizer on a daily basis."

But his observation was revealing in its shortsightedness: since 1958, monthly averages at observatories like Mauna Loa have climbed from 315 ppm to over 403 ppm last month, VICE News reported

Inhofe is no stranger to misguided crusades when it comes to climate change. In January, the Senator brought a snowball to the floor in hopes of disproving two studies from NASA and the NOAA that found 2014 to be the hottest year on record with empirical proof. "I ask the chair, 'Do you know what this is?' It's a snowball. That's just from outside here. So it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonal," he said, before tossing it up into the rostrum. 

Inhofe, who has also written a book arguing that climate change is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," has repeatedly been lampooned for his position on the subject by activists, politicians, and television personalities like Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow. The dangers of climate change, he claims, are backed up by phony science, and perpetrated by "media and Hollywood elites," and the United Nations