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Rep. Jerry Anderson demonstrates some properties of lead, nature's Silly Putty.Big news from Utah, science fans! A brave and wise idiot retired science teacher and current legislator wants to put the brakes on any plans the state might have to cap industrial emissions of carbon dioxide or other “natural” gases (HA! Fart joke!). Rep. Jerry Anderson (R-Idiocracy) says the problem isn’t too MUCH carbon in the atmosphere, it’s too little, because today’s air has just a fraction of the greenhouse gas that was there when dinosaurs roamed the earth. And greenhouses are a way to make the desert bloom!

“We are short of carbon dioxide for the needs of the plants,” Anderson told a state legislative committee Tuesday. “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.”

Unfortunately, Anderson’s bill has stalled, despite a warm reception in committee, over a few nerdish objections to “poisoning.” The bill forbids putting limits on the amounts of “naturally occurring” atmospheric components such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, as well as noble gases. We learned about the periodic table of elements from our fourth-grade science teacher, Mr. Crowell, a great American who looked like Martin Landau and drove a Volvo P1800 sports car. So we know that not all “noble” or “inert” gases from the helium and neon column are actually inert when it comes to human lungs.

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Brian Maffly (a hero of restraint) must also have had a non-Jerry-Anderson science teacher. He helpfully pointed out that radon, a popular radioactive carcinogen particularly common in Utah, sometimes acts in ways that no one would consider noble at all. And ozone, while just swell when acting as a radiation shield high atop the atmosphere, is a lung-scarring pollutant at ground level.

Maffly nearly gave the game away, and we assume sprained his winking eye, with this lovely piece of background:

Also occurring in nature are cyanide and xenon, which can poison people.

Maffly also quoted some “engineering professor” about how the carbon dioxide levels that Anderson wants would actually cause more horrific weather disasters and acidify the oceans and blah, blah, blah, whatever, nerd.

So while it looks like for now Utah plants will not get what they crave, we look forward to Rep. Anderson’s next bill, the Brawndo Price Support Act of 2014.

[Salt Lake Tribune]

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