Conservatives really think they gotcha when they point out that humans breathe out CO2. Ha!
Humans do not create carbon when they breathe. They cycle carbon. We are part of the global carbon cycle. You probably learned about this in grammar school. Plants take in CO2 and release O2. We take in O2 and release CO2. And on and on. Cycle carbon? Yes! Create carbon? No!
Under normal circumstances, there is a set amount of carbon in the air. This carbon spends time as plant material and animal material and in the air as CO2, but it is just part of this global cycle. For each carbon atom that takes up residency as part of a plant, another carbon atom that used to be part of a plant is released into the air. It’s a beautiful system.
It is only when we rip large amounts of sequestered carbon—usually in the form of hydrocarbons (oil, coal, natural gas)—that we add to the total carbon in the atmosphere. And this is why the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing.
People who claim that humans are creating CO2 by breathing are offensive. I don’t say this just because they are denying the science. I say it because they are accusing scientists of being idiots. The idea that thousands of climate scientists have spent their whole lives studying this stuff without noticing such an obvious thing is repugnant. You can tell that the people who talk about this stuff are almost giddy to have found such a clever retort to the scientists. It’s a lot like Bill O’Reilly’s proof of God, “Why is the moon there? Huh, smart guy? And while you’re at it, why is the sky blue? And sometimes red? No one can answer these questions!”
It’s important for liberals to understand how this works. I assure you that eventually, you will run into this argument. It’s sad that these arguments even have to be made. For most things we simply yield to the experts. “I’ll believe that guy who has spent his whole life studying it,” is a very good approach to take. Unfortunately, your crazy Fox News watching uncle doesn’t accept information from those highly biased scientists who sometimes make over a $100,000 per year just to make Al Gore wealthy. Repeat after me, “We cycle carbon, we don’t create it…”
Whenever I watch Rachel Maddow mix drinks, I get the idea that she doesn’t do it much. It’s kind of cute. She likes to pretend she is this serious drinker, but just look at her! She is so white bread it almost makes me despair. But you gotta love her!