For climate deniers, facts don’t matter. “It’s what plants crave!”
At the recent Heartland energy conference, deniers reiterated their plan to find a farmer to flip the script on climate lawsuits, attacking the Endangerment finding by arguing reduced emissions would be bad for agriculture because CO2 is good for crops. Deniers insist this idea is based on the science of CO2 fertilization. But science has long shown the effect of CO2 on crop growth is not a big enough to outweigh all the ways in which CO2 is bad for agriculture.
A new study in Nature Communications out of Purdue reminds us of this important point by updating the cost of carbon to agriculture. The study finds that while decades-old data suggested agriculture could benefit to the tune of $2.7 per ton of CO2, the more recent body of literature finds that carbon pollution imposes a net costs of $8.5 per ton. If being wrong ever stopped deniers, this would be the end of their use of “CO2 is good for agriculture” argument.
Speaking of talking points we know are wrong that deniers continue to use, the Royal Society released a new 36-page report this week on what we’ve learned in the four years since the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5), as something of a midterm report while we wait for AR6 in 2022. The report tackles 13 questions that have arisen since the report’s 2013 release, some of which seem targeted at deniers who misleadingly cite the IPCC.
The first question, for example, suggests an update to the IPCC’s climate sensitivity range. It finds that AR5’s downward revision of the low end of how much warming we can expect from a doubling of CO2, down to 1.5°C from AR4’s 2°C, should be revised back up. They conclude: “A value below 2°C for the lower end of the likely range of equilibrium climate sensitivity now seems less plausible.” Sorry, Nic Lewis.
The Society addresses other common arguments that rely on a very specific reading of the IPCC. It points out how “climate change carried on” during the so-called pause, it implicitly debunks the claim that Arctic sea ice isn’t experiencing any sort of rebound, reiterates that temperature and rainfall extremes are changing as a result of human activity, confirms that oceans are at risk from warming and acidification, and discusses how warming hurts human health. The report even includes a particularly compelling graph showing warming hurts food crop yields.
The findings of this report and the Purdue study means that deniers can’t use agriculture as a tool to undo the Endangerment finding, if they actually hope to win. The only industry that fossil fuel regulations negatively impacts is… the fossil fuel industry.
Why wouldn’t deniers want to just openly defend that industry? Why do they hide from the fact that the industry sponsors their denial to protect their profits?
The latest example of deniers running from their industry bedfellows comes from an op-ed in The Hill by William O’Keefe, which claims that there are reasons to be skeptical on climate change that don’t come from or involve “tools of the fossil fuel industry.”
That climate denial doesn’t come from the industry is an odd argument from a man who admits in the piece that he “spent a career in the petroleum industry.” William O’Keefe was literally a tool of the fossil fuel industry, lobbying for Exxon Mobil, among other work for oily employers.
In conclusion: while deniers are tools of the fossil fuel industry, they’re certainly not the sharpest ones.
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(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)