Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Leave 'em Laughing

("Don't' worry kids," says Grandpa. "John Boehner says the global warming gas carbon dioxide is nothing to worry about because we exhale it. But just think how much safer you'll all be when I stop breathing altogether!" Oh gramps, you're funny but you're no John Boehner.)

This being the week of Earth Day, we find ourselves blogging on an almost continuous basis in order to stuff as much green gunk into readers' heads as we can before their attention wanders back to American Idol.

So how happy were we, we ask you, when the Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be, imagine our amazement, dangerous?

The significance of this, other than to prove that the EPA is not spending its days drooling into a bucket and watching Sponge Bob Square Pants, is it sets the stage for carbon dioxide to be regulated. You may remember that was something George W. Bush promised to do when he first ran for president. You may also remember that promise evaporated faster than exhaust from a Camaro about 13 seconds into his first term.

Now, like magic, we are about the same amount of time into Barack Obama's first term and voila!, the EPA sees the light. If we didn't know better, we would almost suspect that somehow politics affects the government's view of science.

If you're wondering how we got to this point, here is a little refresher, courtesy of The New York Times: "In 2007, the Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. E.P.A., ordered the agency to determine whether heat-trapping gases harmed the environment and public health. The case was brought by states and environmental groups to force the E.P.A. to use the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping gases in vehicle emissions. Agency scientists were virtually unanimous in determining that those gases caused such harm, but top Bush administration officials suppressed their work and took no action."

In issuing the EPA's determination Friday, the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said: “This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations," according to this article in The New York Times.

Almost as quickly, John Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, went on national television to declare that "the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it’s clear…"

This insightful piece of logic was presented on ABC This Week to amazed host, George Stephanopoulos and can be viewed at this link to The New York Times Web site for Green Inc.

What's truly clear, is evidenced in the transcript; that Mr. Boehner was trying hard not to answer the question while seeming to, it also undermines its own logic.

According to Mr. Boehner, if it comes out of our bodies, it must be safe. And yet, what we do with what we flush down the toilet is highly regulated. How our bodily fluids get handled is regulated. Here in Pennsylvania, you even need a license to cut people's hair. Heck, just try burying grandpa in the back yard after he buys the farm and see what happens. Our whole bodies are regulated after we die.

(I must also mention here, with some reluctance, that Mr. Boehner and his party have a great deal of interest in regulating what comes out of a woman's body after conception, so I'm not sure he really wants to go down that road.)

Also, we're not sure where Mr. Boehner came up with the idea that anyone is calling carbon dioxide a "carcinogen." No one, to our knowledge, other than Mr. Boehner is saying CO2 causes cancer, only that it is altering the atmosphere in a way that may change the planet forever, which juuusssttttt might have an effect on human health.

So we agree with Mr. Boehner that the idea that CO2 is a carcinogen is "almost comical," largely because no one but him is saying that. Which, we're pretty sure, makes the joke on him.

In fact, we would consider his entire position "almost comical," if the survival of our planet's eco-system were a laughing matter.

P.S. We do want to thank him for providing us with the opportunity to inject a little bathroom humor into this debate, allowing us to loosen our collective collar and shed a little bit of our stuffy erudite image. After all, you should always leave 'em laughing, a point Mr. Boehner seems to understand.

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