Stop worrying, everyone! Carbon dioxide is actually good for us, and climate change is making our planet safer. That’s according to noted nutjob and QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia).
During an hour-plus-long (oy) conversation this week with host Brian Glenn on the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network, Greene confidently laid out some extremely scuzzy science to support her claim that climate change is benefiting us. Here’s the exchange in all its glory:
Greene: What do plants—okay, don’t say electrolytes, that’s not the answer, you may have been watching movies—what do plants actually crave?
Greene: Of course, but carbon! They need carbon. …it’s the life cycle. But [climate activists] want to kill carbon. They say if the Earth warms 1.5 degrees celsius, AOC says, the Earth is going to explode. But do you know when they’ve been tracking this? They’ve been tracking this since the 1800s.
We’ve already warmed one degree Celsius, and do you know what’s happened since then? Let me tell you: we’ve had more food grown since then, which feeds people. We’ve been producing fossil fuels, keeps people’s houses warm in the winter, that saves people’s lives. People die in the cold. This Earth warming, and carbon, is actually healthy for us. It helps us to feed people, it keeps people alive.
The Earth is more green than it was years and years ago, and that’s because of the Earth warming, it’s because of carbon, because plants do need carbon. Their whole argument is not even scientific.
Let’s break this hot mess down, shall we?
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Greene does get something right here: the Earth has warmed more than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the Industrial Revolution. Great stuff, Marjorie! Scientists have unequivocally warned, of course, that this is an absolutely bad thing, and it’s the entire global scientific community, not just Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that has declared the 1.5 degree mark to be where the impacts of warming will become catastrophic. That message doesn’t seem to have permeated Greene’s brain, but in terms of pure facts, the one degree measurement is technically correct.
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With all the finesse of a smug 17-year-old engaging in a bad-faith Twitter debate, Greene then goes on to cherry pick the absolute worst arguments possible to prove her point that carbon is good, actually. Her point that people die in the cold (yes, yes they do) conveniently ignores the fact that heat-related deaths are rising as climate change makes extreme heat much more regular. Warming can help increase agricultural output in some areas, but it has also devastated it in others, and droughts supercharged by climate change are throwing the future of growing food in agricultural powerhouses like California into question. A fossil-fueled home may keep someone warm during these freezing temperatures she’s so concerned about, but air pollution from those fossil fuels kills millions of people per year.
And she makes no mention of how all that “good” carbon in our atmosphere has made storms more dangerous, driven our polar ice caps to melt at alarming speeds, helped spread dangerous wildfires in places all over the globe, fucked up our oceans, increased the range of diseases, and contributed to the mass die-off of multiple species. I could go on, but I sense these “unscientific” arguments may fall on deaf ears.
It’s pretty unsurprising that Greene, who once claimed that a space laser operated by a powerful Jewish family may have started the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, would bust out some nonsense like this. But MTG didn’t come up with this particular line of cuckoo by herself. The argument that carbon dioxide is good because it’s natural is one that’s been bubbling around denier think tanks for a while. Greene’s comments here echo those of Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Trump Council of Environmental Quality nominee and fellow at the fossil fuel-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, who in 2016 defended carbon dioxide as “a plant food.” It should be noted that Hartnett White’s “scientific” views were so out of left field that the administration actually withdrew her nomination, following a hearing where she was unable to answer basic scientific questions about climate. Nice to know these lies are now finding a foothold in Washington.
It’s a good reminder that even though right wingers may now admit that climate change is happening, they’re still rehashing the same old denial we’ve been confronting for years. And maybe don’t take scientific advice from someone who last year presented a Scooby-Doo meme while testifying in Congress about the Green New Deal.