Michael Johnsen MP is the New South Wales state member of parliament for the electorate of Upper Hunter. This electorate extends from the towns of Clarence Town, Dungog and Gloucester in the east to out beyond Quirindi, Willow Tree and Merriwa, and includes the other towns of Murrurundi, Scone, Aberdeen, Muswellbrook and Singleton. Johnsen is a member of the National Party and has occupied the seat in state parliament since 20151. He has previously unsuccessfully contested the federal seat of Hunter in the 1996, 2010 and 2013 federal elections. On January 25th he tweeted the following:
“I wonder how many people realize what Co2 [sic] is? Two thirds we need to breath and, if you wear diamonds – well, perhaps you could bury them again. I’m calling for all climate change alarmists to bury their diamonds…”2
Johnsen seems not to realise that Oxygen, which we breathe to live, forms about 20% of the atmosphere as the molecule O2. We do not breathe in multiple Carbon Dioxide (CO2) molecules to obtain our Oxygen. If we did breathe in some 20% of CO2, we would be in deep trouble immediately. In fact, breathing in air with a concentration of over 4% CO2 can lead to serious Oxygen deprivation resulting in permanent brain damage, coma, even death3,4. Johnsen also seems to be unaware that diamond, like graphite, is a crystalline form of Carbon, not CO2.
This tweet by Johnsen portrays a level of ignorance and stupidity that is difficult to comprehend. Ignorance of chemistry that students of my vintage passed when they were 12 or younger, and stupidity for not realising that you are ignorant of chemistry. It is also difficult to comprehend how a political party could think that Johnsen should gain preselection to represent anyone. It is also hilarious that the coalition parties believe they do not need quotas for women because they select candidates on merit. If Johnsen’s selection was based on merit, then the Nationals are in deep trouble. What is disturbing is that Johnsen has input into the response of his state to climate change, when he clearly denies it is happening despite not even having the slightest understanding of its mechanism. I am surprised he can breathe while walking.