By Vijay Jayaraj
Since coming to live in Delhi and attending various government functions related to environment and climate, I’ve been struck by the government’s repeated emphasis that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
For a well-informed mind, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that enables all life forms to flourish on earth. It is an odorless, colorless gas – non-toxic at levels 20 or more times the atmospheric concentration – that is the elixir of life.
However, the media and global governing entities have adopted a strange narrative during the past three decades. They vilify carbon dioxide as the single most undesirable and dangerous gas on the planet. One American opinion magazine even went so far as to call it “far more deadly” than the Sarin gas Syrian President Bashar al Assad used to poison his people. (Hint: A lethal dose of Sarin is about one-half milligram. The average person exhales over 1 million times as much CO2 per day – about 1.04 kilograms.)
Yet corporate organizations globally embrace the nonsense that CO2 is a pollutant. They redefine sustainability to accommodate the false idea of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
Not so the Indian government. As I heard the additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change state in a recent meeting: “CO2 is not a pollutant. It is not in the list of 12 official air pollutants as per the government. It is a greenhouse gas that we need to address.”
India’s government will not compromise on developmental goals to accommodate climate-change policies that have branded carbon dioxide a life-threatening pollutant.
India’s position on the management of carbon dioxide emissions will only be strengthened by a string of scientific findings in recent years.
Global temperature patterns showed huge discrepancies between the computer climate models underlying existing climate policies and real-world temperature data.
The models failed miserably, predicting, on average, two to three times the observed warming, rendering them untrustworthy – a finding that a new study in Nature Geoscience implicitly affirms. Yet the United Nations and its Framework Convention on Climate Change use the same faulty models to force restrictive carbon dioxide emission reduction targets on both developed and developing countries.
With President Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. and his decision to withdraw his country from the Paris climate agreement, India could now breathe a sigh of relief.
Besides declaring the intention to pull out from the Paris agreement, Trump’s government has signaled a revamp of environmental policies that were previously harmful to the U.S. economy.
Likewise, India has its foot set firmly on its rightful access to conventional energy, the backbone of economic development in any country.
The Indian government is keen on promoting research and policies that address local environmental problems rather than the false propaganda of dangerous human-driven global warming.
India needs to upgrade the solid and liquid waste infrastructure that serves its 1.2 billion people, reduce air pollutants from industrial and automotive emissions, improve supplies of clean water for drinking and irrigation, and make its use of natural resources more efficient.
Despite significant policy failures on other fronts, the current government is making the right decisions on energy. This should continue if India wants to fuel its growing industrial sector, vital for lifting the fifth of its people still below the poverty line into prosperity, health and long life.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., environmental science, University of East Anglia, England), is a research associate for developing countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He lives in New Delhi, India.