Texas Representative Lamar Smith, who is in charge of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has penned an editorial in which he makes some pretty imaginative claims about the benefits of climate change.
The Republican lawmaker has received over $700,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry, so his stance is not surprising. And neither is the publication. The editorial was published on the Daily Signal, a little-known blog funded by the big-oil-backed Heritage Foundation.
“The benefits of a changing climate are often ignored and under-researched,” Smith writes. “Our climate is too complex and the consequences of misguided policies too harsh to discount the positive effects of carbon enrichment.”
He goes on to add that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide could aid photosynthesis and increase plant growth. This, he said, could correlate with a “greater volume of food production and better quality food.”
Yes, plants need CO2 to grow, but this does not mean that an atmosphere suddenly rich in carbon dioxide will be good for plants. Stanford scientists have shown that higher levels of CO2 don’t lead to higher plant production, and MIT researchers have noted that Earth's crops might have a 10 percent less yield by 2050.
If these well-corroborated studies are too speculative for you, we can focus our attention on the claim that “crops would utilize water more efficiently.” Anyone who has studied a bit of chemistry in junior high school will know that the photosynthesis reaction requires six molecules of carbon dioxide and six molecules of water to happen. So unless Smith has a secret way to fundamentally alter the law of conservation of mass itself, plants will not magically begin to use water more efficiently.
The representative goes on to discuss how plants worldwide have become greener thanks to carbon dioxide, so that must be good. Conversely, the authors of the study published in Nature Climate Change cast doubt on if this trend will actually continue in the future.
Smith continues: “Also, as the Earth warms, WE are seeing beneficial changes to the earth’s geography. For instance, Arctic sea ice is decreasing. This development will create new commercial shipping lanes that provide faster, more convenient, and less costly routes between ports in Asia, Europe, and eastern North America.”
The reality of the Arctic sea ice decreasing is that existing and future shipping lanes will become more hazardous. Just last month, a scientific expedition was canceled due to severe ice conditions, as icebergs from the North Pole move more South than expected.
The evidence for man-made global warming is so overwhelming that deniers have moved from “it’s not real” to “it’s good for us”. If only they’d spend all this energy working towards a solution.