Save the planet -- burn more fossil fuels!

The newest desperate nuttiness from the oil industry: We will punish the earth if we cut greenhouse gas emissions

By Andrew Leonard
Published October 9, 2009 8:45PM (UTC)
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Last week, my ire was stoked by an absurd advertisement arguing that carbon dioxide was "green," paid for, naturally, by a "nonprofit" called "CO2 is Green." More CO2 in the atmosphere, argued the ad, would lead to lusher plant and animal life.

Today we learn, from WorldNetDaily, that the CO2 situation is much more serious than previously imagined: Any effort to cut emissions of CO2 would actively harm existing plant life!


From "Scientist: Cap and Trade will hurt Earth."

Not only does Steward argue that carbon dioxide does not cause warming, he says CO2 levels are already too low and that more, not less, is necessary to maintain plant growth.

Steward told U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers he believes a cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions would mean considerable and unnecessary taxes for American taxpayers.

He also told the magazine that reduced CO2 levels would mean slowed food production. Plants grown at elevated CO2 levels produce larger fruit and take in less water, he said.

WorldNetDaily describes Leighton Steward as "a noted geologist" and member of "a nonprofit group called Plants Need CO2."

Two seconds of Googling came up with some further information:

From SourceWatch:

Steward is a director at EOG Resources, an oil and gas company formerly known as Enron Oil and Gas Company, where he earned $617,151 in 2008. Steward also serves as an honorary director of the American Petroleum Institute.

From Grist:


Steward is formerly head of Burlington Resources, now a part of ConocoPhillips) and former Chairman of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association and the Natural Gas Supply Association.

Steward is the mastermind of both CO2 is Green and Plants Need CO2. The PlantsNeedCO2 Web site, reports Grist's Miles Grant, is registered to Quintana Minerals Production, a Texas oil and gas exploration company.

Maybe someday we'll look back on all this and chuckle at the increasingly absurd attempts by the oil industry to fend off any effort to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But if you haven't been nonplussed enough by this news, here's one more tidbit to rock your world: Saudi Arabia has spent the last week arguing at climate talks in Bangkok "that oil-producing nations get special financial assistance if a new climate pact calls for substantial reductions in the use of fossil fuels."

Michael Casey reports:


That campaign comes despite an International Energy Agency report released this week showing that OPEC revenues would still increase $23 trillion between 2008 and 2030 -- a fourfold increase compared to the period from 1985 to 2007 -- if countries agree to significantly slash emissions and thereby cut their use of oil....

The head of the Saudi delegation Mohammad S. Al Sabban dismissed the IEA figures as "biased" and said OPEC's own calculations showed that Saudi Arabia would lose $19 billion a year starting in 2012 under a new climate pact. The region would lose much more, he said.

"We are among the economically vulnerable countries," Al Sabban told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the talks ahead of negotiations in Copenhagen in December for a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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