First of all, CO2 is not an inert gas. Perhaps it’s good for plants, but it’s poison to humans and animals. Major parts of our bodies, our respiratory and circulatory systems, are dedicated to getting rid of it. For us, it is toxic waste. In large concentrations it is deadly — at lower concentrations it has numerous harmful effects, most of which have not yet been studied. We and all other life on this planet have evolved and adapted to a planet with an atmospheric CO2 concentration of around 250 ppm. We are now over 400 ppm and it is still rising rapidly. The long-term effects of increased CO2 concentrations are completely unknown.
A quick search on the effects of increased CO2 concentrations on humans leads to at least two proposed effects in recent studies. In one: A proposed potential role for increasing atmospheric CO2 as a promoter of weight gain and obesity, it is proposed that the current obesity epidemic is a result of the increase in CO2. Consider the following points:
- The obesity epidemic is global: Obesity Epidemic Is Global, New Study Confirms. Whatever is causing this is affecting people around the world, in both developed and developing countries. The effect is independent of wealth and culture.
- Not only humans, but also other species are being affected: Canaries in the coal mine: a cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics. It affects other animals too. Everything from dogs and cats to chimpanzees and rats are gaining weight. Pets, research subjects, even wild animals are getting fat. Whatever is causing this, it’s not limited to what’s in our food, lack of physical education, deteriorating morals, etc.
- CO2 levels and obesity rates both drop with increasing elevation: Association of elevation, urbanization and ambient temperature with obesity prevalence in the United States. As one goes higher, both the relative (ppm or parts per million) and absolute (partial pressure) concentrations decrease.
Perhaps there is some other cause of obesity that is global, cross-species and elevation dependent, but it’s hard to think what it might be.
Another study: Elevated Indoor Carbon Dioxide Impairs Decision-Making Performance , found a significant impairment in decision-making abilities going from 600 ppm CO2 to 1000 ppm CO2. Unfortunately, they didn’t study the effects of going from 400 ppm to 600 ppm, which we are on our way to doing, or how the increase in CO2 from 250 ppm to 400 ppm has already affected us. If breathing 500 ppm CO2 decreases our decision-making ability by 1 or 2 percent for all 7 or 8 billion of us, what is the cost to humanity?
Besides making us fat and stupid, what other effects might CO2 have? Is it making our children autistic? Is it giving us attention deficit disorder? Is it lowering the resistance of amphibians to fungal infections? Is causing the death of bees? There are many worldwide trends which correlate to the current increase in CO2. There are undoubtedly many more of which we are not yet aware.
If CO2 were a newly proposed drug, we would be forced to do studies on mice for years before starting human trials on small groups, looking to find all the possible side effects before putting it on the market. It would be prescribed only to those whose benefit will be significantly greater than the detriment caused by its labeled side effects. Yet here we are dosing — in perpetuity — every living being with a chemical whose long-term effects are completely unknown.
This is insane. Changing the chemical makeup of your home planet’s atmosphere must be one of the most basic mistakes that a species can make. Let’s not go there — we need to stop burning fossil fuels now! Our descendants, assuming we have any, depend on us to keep their world safe and livable.