The US Supreme Court Finds Warmth to be a Pollutant

Written by Carl Brehmer

While perusing the US Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA 2007 one finds this astonishing statement in footnote #26 on page 26: “No party to this dispute [Massachusetts vs. EPA 2007] contests that greenhouse gases both ‘enter the ambient air’ and tend to warm the atmosphere. They are therefore unquestionably ‘agents’ of air pollution.”

As you can see, according to this Court decision “warm[th]” is itself air pollution and “greenhouses gases” are simply presumed to be “agents” of that pollution. Under this paradigm anything that enters and warms the atmosphere can be considered a “pollutant”. Sunlight enters the ambient air and tends to warm the atmosphere; is it a “pollutant” as well?

The law upon which the US Supreme Court was relying in the formation of this decision was the Clean Air Act (first passed in 1970 and revised in 1990) that defines a “pollutant” as that which can reasonably be “anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” In their 2007 decision the Court reasons that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant because it is presumed to warm the atmosphere; ergo the Court views atmospheric warmth to be a danger to public health and welfare. Stated another way, the US Supreme Court in Massachusetts vs. EPA (2007) asserts that warmth is air pollution.

A common argument that skeptics of anthropogenic global warming have been voicing of late is the fact that the mean global temperature stopped going up some 15 or so years ago while carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise, thus attempting to disassociate carbon dioxide from global warming. Even though it has a certain merit the problem with this argument is that it tacitly concedes the assertion being made that global warming is itself a bad thing and leaves open the possibility that said warming may very well have resulted in environmental catastrophe had it continued. Have we forgotten that the cold polar regions are nearly devoid of life while the warm equatorial regions are teaming with life and that in the mid to upper latitudes everything dies or goes dormant in the cold of winter and comes to life in the warmth of summer?

Congo Antarctica Dakota

Did not humanity start using fire as an energy source in the first place to warm the air because in many places on Earth during much of the year the air is just plain too cold?

Traditional outdoor fire

Have we lost sight of the fact that deserts have a dearth of life not because they are too hot but rather because they are too dry? The primary “greenhouse gas” is water vapor and the actual, real life, “greenhouse effect”—the actual affect that abundant water vapor has on the climate—can be seen in these pictures.

Bangladesh versus Saudi Arabia

Both Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia lie along the same latitude and therefore received equivalent amounts of sunlight throughout the year. What sets these climates apart is the flood of water vapor that is present in Bangladesh vs. Saudi Arabia. This water vapor not only drops Bangladesh’s mean temperature somewhat but also supports its lush ecosystem. Greenhouses after all are structures that are built to enhance plant growth are they not? Thus in Bangladesh we see the real “greenhouse effect”—a profound abundance of both flora and fauna made possible by the presence of both ample heat and ample water vapor.And what about the actual affect that carbon dioxide itself has on the ecosystem?

Barley Grass CO2 enrichment

Above are side-by-side pictures of the affect that simply breathing on a tray of barley grass had on its growth compared to a tray that was left to grow in the ambient air during the same seven-day period. As you can see, enriching the barley grass with 1850 ppm of carbon dioxide increased its growth over the unenriched grass by 50%. As such only those energy sources that produce carbon dioxide as a by product can be rightly called “green energy.”

Nor should we think that carbon dioxide only enhances the growth of plants when they are grown within a confined space.

CO2 correlates with lush vegetation

Above are side-by-side comparative graphics from two different satellites that show that vegetation levels are higher in those areas of the planet that have the highest levels of carbon dioxide. The top graphic depicts high levels of carbon dioxide in red and low levels of carbon dioxide in green. The lower graphic is from a satellite that monitors vegetation levels. As you can see higher levels of carbon dioxide are in lock step with lush greenery.

Thus we have the trifecta that some say threatens to destroy all life on the planet—warmth, water vapor and carbon dioxide. Warmth, which turns winter into summer and the Antarctic into the Congo; water vapor, which not only turns Saudi Arabia into Bangladesh but also cools a climate noticeably and carbon dioxide, which enhances plant growth. Far from being air pollutants warmth, water vapor and carbon dioxide are the foundation of life on our planet; take anyone of them away and the biosphere along with human civilization becomes unsustainable.


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    Pierre Latour


    Good work Carl Brehmer.

    Your evidence is due to photosynthesis, the endothermic chemical reaction in Earth’s flora catalyzed by green chlorophyll. Carbon dioxide and water combine under light to form oxygen and cellulose.

    xCO2 + (nx/2)H2O + I = CxHnx + x(1 + n/4)O2. x = 1, 2, 3… n = 1 – 4

    CxHnx are simplified hydrocarbons, starch, sugar, cellulose. I is radiant energy impinging leaf surfaces and absorbed, driving this exothermic reaction. Sunshine and sun lamps.

    Another form is 6CO2 + 6H2O + light = C6H12O6 + 6O2. x = 6, n = 2

    [The companion exothermic oxidation reaction of fauna and fossil fuel combustion is: CxHnx + x(1 + n/4)O2 = xCO2 + (nx/2)H2O + heat]

    Rate of photosynthesis reaction, moles CO2 consumed/day, is K A [CO2] [H2O] I exp(-E/RT)

    [CO2] is concentration of CO2 in air, mol CO2/mol air, 0.000400
    [H2O] is concentration of H2O in air, humidity, moles H2O/mol air, 0.02
    I is solar radiation intensity, avg 160 w/m2
    T = leaf temperature, deg K, 273 + 25
    E is Arrhenius activation energy, cal/g mol, known since 1928
    R is ideal gas constant, 1.987 cal/g mol – K
    A is leaf area, m2
    K is specific reaction rate constant, moles/joule * 60*60*24 sec/day, known since 1928

    This says the rate is linearly proportional to concentrations of CO2 and H2O, sunlight intensity and increases nonlinearly with T. This equation links the atmosphere’s energy and CO2 mass balances, they interact nonlinearly.

    So as either of these four factors increases, the rate of their consumption increases, tending to reduce each of them until steady state is reached. This is a natural negative feedback stabilizing mechanism on the atmosphere’s CO2 and moisture content and temperature. It indirectly reduces the radiation emissivity and rate from Earth’s surface while increasing its absorptivity. The amount of cooling by photosynthesis increases with global warming and [CO2]. Of course it does increase A, which increases rate, a positive feedback mechanism that is limited by many other factors, like land area and deforestation.

    The GHGT is based incorrectly on radiation energy transfer rates, ignoring cooling effect of photosynthesis.

    CO2 is green plant food. It is quite inert; doesn’t react with much of anything else. It surely is not a pollutant at all. It is central to the cycle of life. It is a radiating gas because it does absorb and emit radiation. To label it a greenhouse gas would be a misnomer.

    UN IPCC practices chemical engineering without a license; which is unlawful in the US. Supreme Court and EPA don’t understand the meaning of pollutant.

    Pierre R Latour, PhD, Professional Chemical Engineer

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