Terry McCrann usually writes on business topics for Murdoch’s The Australian, but he has written a simply silly piece on carbon dioxide emissions, and to let you know where he stands, he has termed the push for renewable energy the “cult of carbon dioxide fear and loathing”1. So, he is clearly a climate change denier, as are many of the other buffoons who write for, or appear on Murdoch’s various media outlets2,3.
McCrann whines about the fact that a large proportion of the carbon dioxide emitted in Europe is from biomass (mostly wood), and assumes that it simply adds to carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere which it does. However, he seems to think it is equivalent to burning fossil fuels, which it isn’t. The carbon dioxide released from burning biomass releases is used by plants to make cellulose and other plant compounds; i.e. to make more plants. This sort of thing has been happening more or less since land plants evolved over 400 million years ago. We know this because of the presence of charcoal in the fossil record, which is known from as far back as the Silurian (433-419 million years ago)4. It is since that time that fires have been part of what is termed the natural carbon cycle5. If you burn wood, all you are doing is returning the carbon dioxide the tree used to construct the wood to the atmosphere. The clue is in the name; it’s a cycle, something McCrann does not seem to understand.
While burning wood adds to the problem of carbon dioxide emissions, it is fossil fuels which are by far the biggest problem. Coal, oil and gas are formed from fossil plant (mostly algal) material, and the enormous amounts of these hydrocarbons have been sequestered in the ground for many millions of years. When this is burnt, the resultant carbon dioxide is released in such quantities that it has ‘overpowered’ the carbon cycle. As a consequence, these gases have been building up in the atmosphere, leading to it heating up, to an extent that is dangerous. We have known this for nearly 30 years6. McCrann seems to be ignorant of this.
McCrann seems to be of the opinion that all carbon dioxide is recycled and if there is more carbon dioxide, there will be more plants and a greener world. If that was the case, then why has the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere risen dramatically? It has increased from less than 300 parts per million, a level it has not exceeded in over 800,000 years7, to now being over 405 parts per million8. Almost all this increase has happened in the last 60 years, and the rate of increase has accelerated in recent years. That increase has translated to a world 1°C hotter than it was throughout all of human history.
McCrann would be better advised to stick with writing on his pet topic of business machinations, rather than writing about things on which he clearly knows little. Whether he was put up to this stupid article by Murdoch’s editorial minions or whether he wrote it of his own accord is of little consequence. Either of these demonstrates that Murdoch’s The Australian is only a pretend newspaper. In addition, McCrann’s piece of drivel does make one wonder about the other articles he writes? Are they similarly requested by his superiors to push their particular barrow, or are they based on his own ignorance?