Sure. Too much oxygen to a newborn baby can cause blindness; oxygen in that case is a pollutant. Certainly, if an essential gas like oxygen can be classed as a pollutant, since too much carbon dioxide can be deadly as an acute poison, it’s fair to class it as a pollutant when it appears where it should not appear, or when it appears in concentrations too great to be safe for what we need it to do, or when it is destructive.
The tougher question is, can Congress do anything about it?
Arguments about whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant distract and detract from, and delay the critical arguments about how to act to mitigate harmful effects of climate change and how to prevent the most disastrous effects, if possible.
Barry Rabe teaches at the University of Michigan and studies policies of government on climate change, and the policy making of government on climate change.
Take a look at some of his work, under the title, “Can Congress Govern the Climate?”
Full report in pdf, here: “Can Congress Govern the Climate?” Or download 0423climatechange_rabe
- Rabe on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, on the costs of fighting climate change
- Rabe on the complexities of cap-and-trade pollution limiting policies
- Time Magazine story on the CO2 cloud that killed 2,000 people in Cameroon, in 1986
- David Suzuki Foundation, “Carbon dioxide, pollutant or plant food?” 2016
Tip of the old scrub brush to U Town Blog.
Help cut through the fog of disinformation:
It’s part of the denialist dance, one of the steps they go through. Cargo Cult Science at its highest blossom: Asking the most basic of questions, but then blowing the answer completely and utterly.
Actually, CO2 *is* a definite local pollutant in a few places, some of which are in California (like Los Angeles), as Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson testified to Congress last year. Start with “Oral Testimony”.
What’s the huge intellectual barrier for the deniers to understanding that all that carbon was tucked away until we dug it out of the ground? The issue isn’t that it’s carbon dioxide, but carbon dioxide made from carbon that hasn’t been part of our biosphere since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
I’m a little pessimistic right now.