Quote of the Day: CO2? What CO2?

| Wed Apr. 30, 2014 5:59 PM EDT

From Les Woodcock, a former professor at the University of Manchester’s School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, explaining why he thinks climate change is a crock:

There is no reproducible scientific evidence CO2 has significantly increased in the last 100 years.

There are many things that a climate skeptic could say. Some are more ridiculous than others, however, and on a scale of 1 to 10, this one is an 11. There are no complicated computer models involved in calculating atmospheric CO2. You just measure it. For pre-modern data, you use ice cores. That's it. Two centuries ago, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was about 280 ppm. Last year it crossed the 400 ppm mark. This is about as controversial as germ theory. Here's the chart:

Now, it's fair to ask why you should care about the fact that some random elderly former professor is badly confused about a simple and uncontroversial measurement. Answer: because there are plenty of people who don't care about evidence one way or another and are willing to glom onto anyone who tells their audience what it wants to hear. "Professor Woodcock is the latest scientist to come out against the theory of man-made global warming," crows Breitbart.com. "Former NASA Scientist: Global Warming is Nonsense," tweets tea party hero Erick Erickson. "Another Scientist Dissents!" screams Climate Depot.

"I literally cannot imagine a statement that would be more scientifically incorrect and humiliating than the one Professor Woodcock made," says Ryan Cooper, from whom I learned about this. "It's like saying you don't believe in the existence of cheese....It's no wonder that only six percent of scientists are Republican."

Nonetheless, there you have it. In the tea party precincts of the conservative movement, even the simplest version of reality doesn't matter. If cheese denial is how you demonstrate you're part of the tribe, then anyone who denies cheese is a hero. The fact that you happen to be happily munching away on a slice of pizza at the time doesn't faze you at all.