Transcript: Myron Ebell - C02 levels at 400ppm is a killer - 13 May '13

Thom Hartmann: We passed the 400 parts per million carbon dioxide in our atmosphere over the weekend, and this is, we are now at carbon dioxide levels that precede - well we actually have been for some time, but it's now like really in our face, 400 parts per million - that precede the emergence of humans. Three million years ago was the last time the atmosphere had 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide and at that time it was Homo erectus as I recall, or maybe Australopithecus or however it's, I'll have to look at a human family tree. But we've only been around a hundred sixty-five thousand years. We've never seen anything like this before and we'll see where this goes.

And to that, Wall Street Journal published this fascinating little piece about CO2 is what plants crave. It was published by Harrison Schmitt, William Happer. What they didn't disclose is that neither of these guys have ever written any peer reviewed research, that one of them, Happer, is the chairman of the George Marshall Institute which gets money from Exxon and from the Koch brothers, and Schmitt is a director at the industry-funded Heartland Institute. You know, same thing. And Schmitt has said, by the way, the "Obvious Path Of The United States" Under "Current Congress And President" Is "National Socialism"... the domestic repression and the international ambitions of the Third Reich." That's his thoughts on President Obama.

And Happer, the other author, compared mainstream climate scientists, climate science to Holocaust propaganda. Apparently the Holocaust was propaganda.

Myron Ebell is with us. He is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the conservative think-tank. Myron, welcome back to the program. It's been quite quite some time since you've been on.

Myron Ebell: Thanks for having me, Thom.

Thom Hartmann: I read this Wall Street Journal op-ed, even before I dug a little and discovered who these guys were who wrote it, just in slack-jawed amazement. I mean, you know, plants do inhale carbon dioxide. We do drink water. If you drink, you know, like five, six gallons of water in a relatively short period time you will die. I mean, this, I don't know where to begin with this.

Myron Ebell: Well, Thom, I think Jack Schmitt and Will Happer make two main points. One is that the carbon dioxide is not having the serious impacts that have been claimed for it. That is to say, the models predicting rapid rises in temperatures have have not borne out. We have had...

Thom Hartmann: You're talking about the 15 and 20 year old models that...

Myron Ebell: No, no, I'm talking about all the models that are being run by the IPCC - the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the various universities connected.

Thom Hartmann: Right, the IPCC...

Myron Ebell: They all show significant warming and we haven't had any warming now for about 15 years.

Thom Hartmann: No, we're up up eight tenths of a degree from the norm and we're, first of all, and just taking the last 15 years, secondly, rather than, you know, decades or centuries in totality is rather odd. And third, the IPCC's original projection for warming when we weren't hitting those early on in the nineties, and we didn't through the nineties and through the first couple of years of the two thousands, everybody was worrying where did all that, you know, what happened? And it turns out that the oceans have been absorbing that carbon dioxide like crazy. It's causing ocean acidification, it's causing the die-off of coral reefs and plants and the oceans are also absorbing a lot of that heat. So the earth as an entire system...

Myron Ebell: Thom, hang on, Thom. The oceans can absorb more carbon dioxide if they're cooling. They absorb carbon dioxide when they cool and they give it off, the oceans put it out into the atmosphere when they're warming. So under your theory, the oceans must be cooling.

Thom Hartmann: No, that's not true. The oceans will absorb carbon dioxide relative to its concentration in the air.

Myron Ebell: No, Thom, I'm sorry. There's a lot of work done on the oceans and how much carbon dioxide and the rate that they can take it up and it doesn't, the research that's done does not support your theory so I'm just...

Thom Hartmann: It's not a theory. It's a scientific fact that the oceans have been absorbing more carbon dioxide as we have been putting more of it into the atmosphere. There's, this is simple osmosis this is simple semi, you know, the surface of the water is like a semi-permeable membrane and as there is...

Myron Ebell: Thom, explain what the oceans were doing when there was three or four thousand parts per million rather than three or 400 parts.

Thom Hartmann: They had massively more carbon dioxide in them, of course, Myron.

Myron Ebell: Thom, your missing the point.

Thom Hartmann: The carbon dioxide levels in the oceans are a reflection of the carbon dioxide levels in the air. All you have to do is go back and look at the science that's been done on the last on the Permian Extinction, you know, this was peer-reviewed stuff published in 2003 by Wignall and

I'm forgetting the other guys name, that showed that, you know, when carbon dioxide levels jacked the temperature of the surface up above five degrees, the ocean was absorbing that carbon dioxide and absorbing that heat to the point where it started melting methane crystals which nuked the planet.

Myron Ebell: Right, OK. Let me make my point again. The predicted very severe negative impacts of carbon dioxide have so far been hiding somewhere...

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, it's called hurricane Sandy.

Myron Ebell: Hide it in the oceans or hide it wherever you want, they've been hiding.

Thom Hartmann: They're not hiding. You haven't noticed Australia's on fire, the United States is on fire...

Myron Ebell: Thom, I thought you said we had to look at centuries, not a couple years. Now you're talking about one event? It's been really cold in Minnesota and Omaha and Wyoming.

Thom Hartmann: Yes, they're very concerned that the loss of sea ice up in the Arctic is causing changes in the northern hemisphere's weather patterns.

Myron Ebell: Look, if you think that we have to look at centuries then I hope you won't resort to pointing at one event. Now let me get to the other point that Will Happer and Jack Schmitt make and that is that the beneficial effects of higher carbon dioxide levels on the biosphere are very well attested in the scientific literature going back hundreds of experiments going back to the nineteen...

Thom Hartmann: Myron, we have less than a minute. A real quick question for you. If you were about to walk across the street with a blindfold on and 97 out of a hundred experts told you would be hit by a car and killed, would you take the word of those three people and do it?

Myron Ebell: It depends on who the experts were and unfortunately the experts, the so-called 97 experts on your side, most of them are not very expert and many of them are...

Thom Hartmann: Don't you think that there's even a, as Dick Cheney said, you know, we invaded Iraq based on a 1 percent probability that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, he said anything over 1% we should, you know, sacrifice the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Don't you think that at least if there's a one-percent chance we should be taking this seriously?

Myron Ebell: No, because I didn't agree with Dick Cheney. I'm sorry that you did, Thom.

Thom Hartmann: I didn't in the case of Iraq.

Myron Ebell: Ah, well then he's not a good example for your point, Thom.

Thom Hartmann: Well, okay, perhaps you're right and we'll leave it at that. Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute is their website, thank you, Myron.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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