One of the memes I often have to repeat is, simply put, the Republican and conservative leadership routinely lies to its followers. I mean, outright lying on just about every issue.
They tell their people that President Obama has doubled the deficit (he’s reduced the deficit), raised taxes (he’s lowered taxes) and increased government spending (he’s lowered spending). They tell their people that tax cuts and deficit reduction boosts economic growth during a recession (not true). They tell their people that President Obama is undermining capitalism when, in fact, corporations are showing record profits and the Dow has doubled during the president’s first term. They tell their people there are death panels and forced euthanasia in the healthcare law. They tell their people an army of IRS soldiers will storm through neighborhoods enforcing the individual mandate. The list goes on and on.
One lie in particular is so utterly ridiculous and so outside the purview of reality that we can draw no other conclusion besides the obvious: conservative leaders think their followers are really, really stupid. And considering how many followers repeat this lie, the leaders might actually be right.
Here it is. Human breathing, they say, creates CO2 emissions and therefore liberals want to regulate human breathing in order to prevent the climate change “myth.”
An actual member of the U.S. Senate repeated this one Tuesday. I give you Senator Sensenbrenner (R-WI):
“CO2 is a natural gas. Does this mean that all of us need to put catalytic converters on all our noses? The fact that people think CO2 is a pollutant … basically goes into propaganda.”
We’ve heard this one before.
“Carbon dioxide is basically this. (Exhales.) Look at how much pollution I just put out.”
“We exhale CO2. If were a poison, it wouldn’t be part of the way we stay alive.”
“Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature.”
“Now I know there is also a movement to say that carbon dioxide should be guided or should be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.”
We know exactly what’s going on here. The right-wing leadership has decided to ignore the incontrovertible scientific consensus in lieu of appealing to the moronic reasoning of simpletons. On the surface, this breathing silliness sounds like it might be true — if you’re really into uneducated, simplistic explanations for very complex topics. Republican followers don’t want to accept that human consumption is hurting the environment because they’d prefer to be gluttons — proudly driving cars too large for their needs and destroying natural resources for the grand cause of human convenience. And so their leadership is feeding them this handy bumper-sticker level lie. Humans exhale carbon dioxide. Oh. Okay. So everything is going to be fine.
It’s easy to debunk with a single example. Water is necessary for human life. We all drink it or else we’ll die. However, if we drink water beyond the capacity of our stomachs, we’ll either vomit or our stomachs will rupture. Or, by way of another example, if sea levels rise too high and overtake the land, people will drown. Water, in other words, can save life and it can extinguish it.
But, but — ummm-doy — we drink water so it must be harmless! Too much of it is just great! It’s natural!
Likewise, carbon dioxide is indeed a gas that we and the rest of the animal kingdom naturally exhales. Trees, conversely, absorb CO2 and release oxygen. The symbiotic absorption by trees and plant life of the carbon dioxide exhaled by animals (including humans) is part of the natural carbon cycle, and has been since the earliest days of life on Earth.
Furthermore, human breathing doesn’t even make the list of serious sources of carbon dioxide emissions. These unnatural and ultimately poisonous sources of carbon dioxide emissions are what’s really causing much of the climate crisis. Duh. The ecosystem wasn’t designed to scrub out unprecedented levels of CO2 released by the burning of fossil fuels and therefore the CO2 is just lingering in the atmosphere, trapping heat and scrambling our weather patterns. Again, just like our water example, we’re drowning in too much CO2, irrespective of what our lungs produce when we exhale.
But if you’re a Republican and you don’t mind being exploited and lied-to with this cheap “breathing” line, have at it. Just be careful of emails from Nigerian princes who want to deposit money directly into your bank account.