"We are short of carbon dioxide for the needs of the plants," Anderson told state environmental committee on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. "Concentrations reached 600 parts per million at the time of the dinosaurs and they did quite well. I think we could double the carbon dioxide and not have any adverse effects."
For the record, dinosaurs died off some 65 million years ago. Some scientists have even surmised that the prehistoric animals' own flatulence contributed to a significant greenhouse gas effect at the time.
But even if scientists are still fuzzy on the climate of the dinosaurs and the mysteries of their extinction, they're nearly unanimous on the consensus that CO2 emissions are spurring global warming.
"We are on a path to double the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere since we started burning fossil fuels," Joe Andrade, retired University of Utah engineering professor, recently told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We can all see the chaotic weather that it has already produced."
Anderson has put forward a bill that would change the state's definition of "air contaminants," so that naturally occurring gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen, as well as all noble gases, can't be categorized as "pollution." Such a definition change would prevent state regulators from establishing CO2 standards below concentrations of 500 parts per million. Current atmospheric CO2 levels are hovering just above 400 parts per million. The bill is currently stalled in debate.
"It’s not toxic to you and me below concentrations of 1,000 or 2,000 [parts per million], but it’s toxic to this planet," professor Andrade explained. "Setting an arbitrary upper limit, that is out of the bounds of anything related to planetary stability, is simply bad government."
Environmental advocates are understandably aghast at Anderson's claims. But they might be more frightened to learn that before Anderson became a politician, he taught science to school children.