NEW YORK – In an effort to win public support for the EPA’s recently proposed regulations to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants an estimated 30 percent by 2030, the White House has begun a campaign in which it claims the carbon dioxide “pollution” causes children to get asthma.
“The next version of the White House claim will have puppies and kittens in it too,” David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., a Heritage Institute research fellow in energy economics and climate change, told WND, treating the Obama administration argument with derision.
“Carbon dioxide has nothing to do with any health effects directly.”
Kreutzer explained that when the issue is pressed directly, top Obama administration “get a little bit more honest” and shift their ground to argue that even if carbon dioxide is not a toxic gas, it is still the indirect cause serious health problems such as asthma.
“What the White House is really maintaining is that when we get more carbon dioxide, we get more ozone, and the ozone causes asthma. Or, if more carbon dioxide causes global warming, then spring will last longer and we will have more pollen. Or, by using less coal we will have reduced particulate emissions and the particulate emissions cause asthma.”
Marc Morano, the executive director of Climat Depot, agrees.
“This is pure propaganda,” Morano told WND.
“The White House is trying to demonize carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The idea is to convince people that carbon dioxide somehow causes asthma and puts children in hospitals.”
Morano said Obama “has shifted the debate to children and asthma because he knows the public is not buying global warming.”
Both Kreutzer and Morano insist the EPA already has ample regulations that have been enforced for decades to remove toxic particles from the air to a level the EPA considers safe for health regardless of cost.
“The whole point of this asthma campaign is for the White House to get sick children on TV,” Kreutzer insisted.
“Even if you believed the most dire predictions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the EPA’s proposed regulations would not reduce enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make any measurable impact on the climate.”
Morano contends there is a difference between regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and regulating pollutants.
“We have largely solved classical air pollution over the past few decades,” he noted.
“The coal-burning power plants coming on line today are vastly cleaner than they were a generation ago. But the Obama EPA isn’t regulating pollution with these new rules. They are regulating carbon dioxide, not carbon.”
He pointed out that carbon dioxide, a miniscule trace gas in the atmosphere, is vital to photosynthesis and life on earth. It is a gas everyone exhales, and plants use it for food.
There is nothing inherently toxic or unhealthy in carbon dioxide,” he said.
Still, Morano cautioned the White House change of emphasis to health themes is “effective propaganda.”
“People say, ‘I don’t know if I buy global warming, but I want to clean up the air,’” he noted.
“As long as the White House can manage to convince the American people that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, identical to smog, soot and toxic air particulates, the shift of the EPA debate from climate change directly to asthma, lung disease and other health care issues will persuade some normally intelligent people, including generally credible news editors on television.”
White House ‘war on asthma’
The evidence is abundant that the Obama administration has shifted into high gear a campaign to convince the public the EPA carbon dioxide regulations are necessary because carbon dioxide “pollution” increases asthma that impacts disproportionately “vulnerable” groups, including children, the elderly, the poor and “communities of color.”
In a June 6 press release the White House argued, “In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.”
The White House press release went on to state that the effects of climate change “impact the most vulnerable Americans – putting the elderly, kids, and people already suffering from burdensome allergies, asthma, and other illnesses at greater risk.”
To make sure the full emotional impact of the asthma argument was appreciated, the White House press release concluded as follows:
The President believes we have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not irrevocably polluted or damaged. While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we must take steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, protect our children’s health, and begin to slow the effects of climate change so that we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment. That’s why the President put forward the Climate Action Plan last year and earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a vital component of that plan – common-sense carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.
The press release linked to a seven-page White House-authored paper that repeated the argument, claiming carbon-dioxide emissions cause climate change that in turn causes children to develop asthma.
“We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not irrevocably polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the Nation,” the White House report claimed in the first sentences.
The second paragraph made the causal link argument: “Climate change, caused primarily by carbon pollution, threatens the health and well-being of Americans in many ways, from increasing the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses to changing the spread of certain vector-borne diseases.”
Then came a statement designed to touch the reader’s emotions: “Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, including children, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, the poor, and some communities of color.”
The White House campaign to blame carbon-dioxide emissions for causing asthma was kicked off in President Obama’s weekly address May 31, delivered at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.
“Hi, everybody. I’m here at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., visiting with some kids being treated here all the time for asthma and other breathing problems,” the president said. “Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution – pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change. And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it.”
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in a press release announced the agency’s “Clean Power Plant.”
“About a month ago, I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “I met a lot of great people, but one stood out – even if he needed to stand on a chair to do it. Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid – and a stellar hockey player. But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry.
McCarthy proceeded to claim the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants would “deliver climate and health benefits up to $90 billion dollars,” while avoiding up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks in the first year alone.
What causes asthma?
Contrary to Obama administration assertions that carbon dioxide causes asthma, the professional health care community appears stumped when asked directly to explain what causes it.
“Asthma is very common, affecting more than 26 million people in the United States, including almost 7 million children. No one knows for sure why some people have asthma and others don’t,” the website of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology notes.
“People who have family members with allergies or asthma are more likely to have asthma. Asthma can occur at any age but is more common in children than adults. Heredity can play a role. In young children, boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to develop asthma, but this sex difference tends to disappear in older age groups. Obesity is a newly identified risk factor for asthma.”
The National Institute of Health Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website notes that among the causes of asthma are an inherited tendency to develop it, certain respiratory infections during childhood and contact with airborne allergens or exposure to viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing.
“One theory researchers have for what causes asthma is called the hygiene hypothesis,” the NIH website continues “They believe that our Western lifestyle – with its emphasis on hygiene and sanitation – has resulted in changes in our living conditions and an overall decline in infections in early childhood.”
The 2014 National Climate Assessment at globalchange.gov makes only the indirect causal link, arguing increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause climate change that in turn “can exacerbate” lung ailments such as asthma.
On page 12 of the 2014 NCA, the report notes in a caption to a photograph, “Climate change can exacerbate respiratory and asthma-related conditions through increases in pollen, ground-level ozone, and wildfire smoke.”
Even the frequently cited report released by the Harvard Medical School and the Center for Health and Global Environment conceded asthma is “associated with a genetic predisposition.”
However, when citing a correlation between increases in the global rise of carbon-dioxide emissions and the incidence of asthma increasing 160 percent from 1980-1994, the Harvard Medical School team was only able to argue an indirect causal link.
After conceding that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere globally is yet “minute,” the report released by the Harvard Medical School and the Center for Health and Global Environment concluded the real nemesis in the increased incidence of asthma over the past few decades was “the changing environment and air pollution.”