Ridiculous though they may be, there is something to be learned from these Pro-CO2 advertisements from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The ads make a simple logical claim:
- Premise: CO2 emissions result from all kinds of processes on Earth, like animals exhaling and the burning of fossil fuels for energy, which shows that CO2 is healthy, natural, and safe
- Premise: The burning of fossil fuels for energy has “freed us from backbreaking labor” by changing the way humans perform labor
- Conclusion: Curbing CO2 emissions would impose a burden on humanity (Premise 2) for no good reason (Premise 1)
This conclusion leads to a hilarious tagline: “They call it pollution. We call it life.”
Before I get into eviscerating this logical argument, it’s worth noting that the Competitive Enterprise Institute receives a portion of its funding from ExxonMobil and other companies, as described here.
Here is how the Washington Post describes the advertisements:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative advocacy group that reflects the Bush administration’s free-market approach, unveiled a TV ad campaign this week that denounced efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions as unwarranted.
The Post’s phrasing conceals the true inanity of the CEI ads. The logical argument fails because Premise 1, above, is not true. It sidesteps the matter of atmospheric chemistry by making the childish assertion that anything we breathe out must be good for the planet. An atmosphere composed entirely of CO2 would kill all animals on the planet’s surface immediately. This fact alone refutes Premise 1.
Obviously, the CEI is being disingenuous here. Their argument is really more like, “It would be hard and unpleasant to change the way we produce energy, so let’s not do it” Call it the argument from laziness. If this is the best the polluting industries of the world can do, maybe there is hope for comprehensive environmental action yet.
[tags]Environment, Global Warming[/tags]