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CO2 isn’t all bad

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The EPA has released the Obama administration’s new plan to limit U.S. power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The president is suggesting that his plan would provide better health, especially for children and the elderly who suffer from asthma and other related breathing ailments.

He did not use the term carbon dioxide in his talk. Instead he kept referring to carbon, raising images of thick black smoke pouring from stacks, or the carbon in pencils that makes marks on paper. But his new program is entirely concerned not with the element carbon, but with CO2, where the carbon becomes part of a colorless, non-toxic gas, that we inhale and exhale with every breath. CO2 makes the bubbles in carbonated beverages, and doesn’t cause asthma or other ailments.

CO2 gas is a contributor to global warming, but it also stimulates the growth and development of nearly all plants, and it enhances the efficiency with which plants utilize water. Whether this extra CO2 does any harm deserves rational discussion, not scary and misleading images.

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