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Hansen Suggests Plants Will Thrive with Unlimited CO2; Scientists Suggest Reducing Emissions to Save Energy and Planet

Representative Jon Hansen takes the climate-change-denier position that we should just release all the carbon dioxide we want and let plants eat it.

Actual scientists say that (a) crops grown amidst more carbon dioxide have fewer nutrients and (b) instead of testing whether we can turn Earth into Venus, we could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from buildings by 91%:

In the United States, the authors cite, buildings—including both public buildings, like offices, and private buildings, like homes—contribute 35% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In 2005, the US contributed 2,327 megatons of carbon dioxide in the buildings sector, setting a record for all-time high emissions. Since then, emissions have declined by 25%, and are projected to keep declining by up to another 41% by 2050. But we will need to keep cutting emissions to reach our climate goals, assert the authors.

For their analysis, the authorship team defines three main ways to cut building-related emissions. They argue that we should focus on making buildings use energy more efficiently, making the power grid more reliable by increasing the flexibility of how energy is managed by the grid, and utilizing low-carbon energy sources. “There are no ‘silver bullet’ solutions for building decarbonization,” write the authors. “Achieving deeper levels of emissions reductions will require a comprehensive mix of solutions addressing both the generation and end uses of energy—a true ‘all-of-the-above’ menu of solutions to decarbonize the built environment.”

The team modeled “low,” “moderate,” and “aggressive” scenarios of this “all-of-the-above menu” to determine the degree to which we can cut emissions. They found that it’s possible to reduce building emissions by 91% compared to 2005 levels by 2050, and that demand-side measures that increase the flexibility of the power grid, like heat pumps and smart thermostats, could contribute up to 45% of these emissions cuts [Julia Grimmett, Cell Press, “US Can Cut Building Emissions by up to 91%, Saving $100 Billion per Year in Energy-Related Costs, Modeling Study Shows,” AAAS: EurekAlert!, 2023.08.18].

You can base your policy on the armchair crackpottery of a Rapture-focused Dell Rapids lawyer who studied business at Southeast and USF, or you can bone up on real science and technology and consider practical changes in building practices that can save money, energy, and the planet.


  1. PWK 2023-08-24

    As usual Rep.Hansen sounds like a denier lunatic.

  2. P. Aitch 2023-08-24

    “There are no ‘silver bullet’ solutions for building decarbonization,” because when America’s youth sounded the alarm on our first Earth Day (Watertown High students stood up and left classes in protest of our Earth being violated, en masse’) on April 22, 1970, future MAGA’s skipped the protest and went to smoke tobacco in their cars. Same people who are the opposite of the “brain drain” and their genetically deficient children aka the majority in SD.
    Sorry if this sounds negative. #BeingPositive

  3. sx123 2023-08-24

    Plants use CO2 to a point and then too much is too much. Some greenhouses supplement CO2.
    Maybe it would be smarter to have ethanol plants right at the corn field and then farmers can exhaust/creep stored CO2 over the bean rotation the next year; just going with the ‘more CO2 is good for plants’ line of thought :)

  4. Donald Pay 2023-08-24

    Yes, up to a certain point, increased carbon dioxide concentration in the air can increase carbon fixation, but there are many complications with the belief that that is the only thing that happens. The subject is complex and I can’t go into all of the permutations here. I’ve linked an article below.

  5. DaveFN 2023-08-24

    Donald Pay

    Please stay away from scientific studies as they inevitably open onto further questions and unknowns that people would prefer don’t exist.

  6. Jamie Fisk 2023-08-24

    PBS had a program about global warming. It explained that the atmosphere is heating up and causing the tundra in the Northern areas of Canada and Alaska to melt releasing large amounts of Methane into the atmosphere. Methane is in larger amount than CO2 so is causing more heating and more melting. The big polluter of the atmosphere is CO that is Carbon Monoxide that comes from burning fossil fuels. If you want to stop global warming, it is time to limit the time cars are on the road. Wake up, we are killing the planet with radioactive waste that is toted as Green Energy, Exhaust from combustion engines, coal fired power plants. We do not need to subsidize the Ethanol Industry anymore than what it all ready is. If the companies that want to build these CO2 pipeline would wait until the new Federal guidelines are in place with reasonable setbacks and depths, and pay a royalty to the Landowners we would not be having all this get rich quick scheme. Jon Hanson was right on the points he made at the debate in Brookings, SD. The only mistake was that he should have pointed out that the 45Q has been around under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Trump was President when a CO2 pipeline was built in WY and transports CO2 to Canada where it was used for Carbon Capture research. Exon has been sequestering CO2 at La Barge, WY for 3 years. One needs to study the facts. go to this white paper that explains where Co 2 exists in US, where the pipelines go and will go, and the places where it can be stored.

  7. Francis Schaffer 2023-08-25

    Nitpicky? I don’t believe carbon dioxide is measured in megatons. This sounds more like the units of some type of bomb.

  8. Donald Pay 2023-08-25

    DaveFN, I hope that is a tongue in cheek statement. Scientists have been placing various plant species in growth chambers and manipulating CO2 levels and every other input for almost a century. Physiological plant ecologists and agronomists know a lot about this subject, and what Hanson said is extremely simplified, and doesn’t tease out all the problems that come with increased CO2 levels. Yeah, if you make sure there are no other limiting conditions, increased CO2 can increase photosynthesis and primary productivity. But CO2 is often not the limiting factor in plant productivity or crop yields. And even if you get more production, you have other impacts you know little about, such as how that affects other metabolic functions. There is also the question of what increased heat and increased water stress has on photosynthesis. It’s not as simple as inputting more carbon dioxide and get more yield.

  9. grudznick 2023-08-25

    That’s why people talk to their plants, Mr. Pay. grudznick’s old ma would yell at her garden plants, thinking she was demanding them to grow bigger, but it was really the CO2 from her putrid breath and the hydration from her spittle that made those cucumbers fatten up. Now you know why I don’t write much about my ma.

  10. Richard Schriever 2023-08-25

    Jamie Fisk. We are not killing the planet; we are killing ourselves. The planet was fine without us as an expression of its “personality” for eons and will be fine without us for more eons.

  11. O 2023-08-25

    Richard, I don’t think killing the planet and killing ourselves is mutually exclusive — the innovation of industry allows us to accomplish both.

  12. Algebra 2023-08-26

    IMHO, the best way to sequester carbon is to grow kudzu, and bury it before it buries us.

  13. John 2023-09-01

    Montana kids won a big climate change law suit – forcing Montana to consider the effects of projects on climate change and the environment. It’s HUGE.

    “Does government sanction of fossil fuel projects abridge young people’s constitutional rights — whether to life, liberty and happiness or to a healthy environment? Especially in the United States, the notion that teenagers might ever win such cases seemed a pipe dream.
    A Montana court decision has suddenly made it a reality.

    The unprecedented ruling for Montana youth ages 5 to 22 — including a rancher’s daughter, a fly fisherman, hunters and a Salish woman whose tribal land is threatened by wildfire — must survive an appeal to the state Supreme Court. But already it gives weight to an aspiration of young people worldwide to use the courts to force governments to address climate change.

    The ruling would do away with a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act that forbids state agencies from considering the climate when greenlighting new fossil fuel projects such as coal mines. The ruling is based on the rights of residents alive today, and of those yet to be born, to a clean and healthy environment.”

    “many democracies do, in theory, guarantee their citizens the right to clean air, water, farmland, forests and other natural resources. The idea of getting judges to enforce this guarantee in more places is not unreasonable. Governments would merely be held to promises they’ve already made. The Montana ruling, for instance, rests on an explicit promise in the state’s constitution.”

    “This right is widely acknowledged around the world. Similar language occurs in the national constitutions and policies of 160 countries. In some instances, it is guaranteed in international treaties the governments have signed.”

    “Many states have enshrined similar rights. The constitutions of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New York contain their own versions of Montana’s language. Florida’s constitution guarantees the right to “clean and healthy waters.” Virginia’s, like many others, requires that natural resources be preserved for its citizens. And movements are afoot in several other states to establish similar guarantees.

    And beyond such explicit constitutional provisions, the ideas upheld in the Montana ruling echo across geographies and time. The idea that present and future generations have a right to a healthy and safe environment dates to 6th-century Rome. The public trust doctrine, articulated by Emperor Justinian I, implies that governments must act as trustees of vital natural resources, protecting them on behalf of future generations.”
    From the Justinian code, AD 535:
    “By the law of nature these things are common to all mankind, the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.”

  14. e platypus onion 2023-09-01

    No offense, but, Montana kids win big lawsuit was reported on a couple weeks (approx) ago. Still it is good news and a good reminder for people here.

  15. John 2023-09-01

    None taken. The new “news” about that Montana case is the detailed work from WAPO on how similar provisions to that used in the Montana suit exist in many other states’ constitutions. The legal fundamentals for the clauses go back to the Justinian code. The article includes clauses from those states and a graphic indication of the 160 nations with similar clauses in their national constitutions. It’s very likely that the kids victory in Montana will not be a “one off”.

  16. e platypus onion 2023-09-01

    John, thanks for the detailed explanation. Keep reporting neat stuff here for all to read. epo

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