The Heretics: Dr. Craig Idso – by Rich Trzupek


Given the dogmatic fervor of global warming proponents, and their intolerance of skeptics who dare to question the latest commandment (see: cap-and-trade) in the green scripture, it is perhaps no coincidence that the environmentalist movement sometimes seems to have more in common with theology than with science. If that is true, then the logical word to describe those scientists who have challenged environmental hysteria and extremism is “heretics.” In a series of profiles, Front Page’s Rich Trzupek will spotlight prominent scientists whose “heretical” research, publications, and opinions have helped add a much-needed dose of balance and fact to environmental debates that for too long have been driven by fear mongering and alarmism. In a field that demands political conformity, they defiantly remain the heretics. (For the first part of the series, a profile of Steve Milloy, please click here.) – The Editors

Like many scientists, Dr. Craig Idso has a problem with the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but his perspective is a bit different. He believes the planet can use more. “As carbon dioxide concentrations rise, we expect plants to be more biodiverse,” Idso said. “We expect a great greening of planet earth.”

Idso is the founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. The Center’s website serves a repository of a wide variety of data and information involving greenhouse gases and climate change. Like most skeptics, Idso rejects the notion that mankind’s contribution to the amount greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will significantly affect the earth’s mean temperature, but climate change is not the primary focus of his work. Idso is one of the leading voices in the scientific community to declare that, far from being a problem, today’s concentrations of carbon dioxide are a necessity for a healthy planet.

“At the end of the last ice age, carbon dioxide concentrations were about 180 parts per million,” he explained. “At the beginning of the industrial revolution, it was about 280 parts per million. You’re very close to plant death at those concentrations. The plants are effectively carbon dioxide starved. The current concentration, around 380 parts per million, is much better for plant life.”

In geologic terms, earth is currently enjoying the comforts of an interglacial period, known as the Holocene Period, which began a little over 10,000 years ago. Interglacials, which occur roughly every 100,000 years, are relatively warm respites from the more prominent ice ages that dominate recent geologic history. No scientist – not even the most ardent alarmist – disputes this fact.

Nor, as Idso’s father Dr. Sherwood Idso points out, is there any doubt in the scientific community that the temperature increase associated with an interglacial period precedes an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations. Ice core data shows this relationship quite clearly and Al Gore’s misrepresentation of this fact, by skewing data in “An Inconvenient Truth” to make it seem that carbon dioxide concentrations have historically caused, rather than followed, temperature changes is one of the more glaring errors in his film.

The core of the alarmists’ claims is that, if left unchecked, increasing carbon dioxide concentrations will magnify this natural warming cycle, with catastrophic consequences to the planet and its eco-systems. In addition to disputing the theory that disastrous warming will, or even can, occur, Craig Idso sees a host of planetary benefits as carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise.

“The major benefit is an increase in productivity,” he said. “We’ve looked at several thousand experiments and, based on that data, a doubling in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will lead to a twenty five to fifty five per cent increase in biomass, or crop yield. And for woody plants, it’s even better. We expect to see a fifty to seventy five percent increase in woody plants. As carbon dioxide concentrations continue to grow, were going to help feed the population of the planet.”

Studies also show that increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reduces the amount of water that plants need to grow, an important consideration in those areas of the world where fresh water supplies are scarce. Rising carbon dioxide also helps to minimize the stress on plants, Idso said. For example, a plant can get by with less phosphorous – a vital but sometimes scarce nutrient – when there is more carbon dioxide available.

Idso passion for his area of expertise belies his soft-spoken manner. It’s a passion that is, at least in part, inherited. Dr. Sherwood Idso was one of the first scientists to speak out against popular theories involving disastrous climate change, so his sons grew up immersed in the issue. But it was one particular confrontation, between his father and a certain Senator from the Tennessee that pushed Craig Idso into what has become his life’s work. “What really brought me into the issue was when Al Gore went after my father when [Gore] was in the Senate and he rigged a Senate sub-committee meeting to go after my father and discredit his work,” Idso said.

In addition to serving as chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Craig Idso is the co-author, along with Dr. Fred Singer, of Climate Change Reconsidered. Published by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who study climate change, the comprehensive report is a compendium of data and analysis that serves as a counterweight to the politically driven reports issued by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Idso, Singer and their many prominent contributors in the scientific community are gearing up to begin work on their second report, provisionally known as NIPCC-2. Initially, NIPCC-2 will be a living document, with its own website, updated periodically as chapters are developed and data examined. The idea, Idso explained, is to make the report production process entirely transparent so that anyone, no matter their predispositions with regard to global warming, can see, be part of and comment on the process. Given what the world has learned about the way that some of the IPCC data has been developed, such transparency is a breath of fresh air.

  • bob

    See Idso's wirtings refuted:

    It's too bad that Frontpage has fallen into the climate change denial camp that pervades the right–Any and all of Pter Sinclair's videos on Youtube will refute this denial with hard scientific –and logical–evidence.

  • USMCSniper

    More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. – including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties – have signed a petition rejecting “global warming,” the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth's climate.

    “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate,” the petition states. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

    The list of scientists includes 9,021 Ph.D.s, 6,961 at the master's level, 2,240 medical doctors and 12,850 carrying a bachelor of science or equivalent academic degree.

    The Petition Project's website includes both a list of scientists by name as well as a list of scientists by state.

  • tlwinslow

    It's sad that scientists don't even remember their own mantra that the Earth in the past was a lot more green and supported dinosaurs because it had more CO2 in the atmosphere. Them giant dinos had a lot more food available than tiny elephants do now, and even they're on the verge of starving in Africa. Instead of trying to lower CO2 emissions, we need to start finding ways to raise them to turn deserts green and grow more food for the teeming billions. One way might be to reactivate dormant volcanoes in depopulated regions and/or Antarctica. Animals who have adapted to the cold can adapt to warm, give them free vacations to Tahiti, but when the world pop. doubles again, how how how will we stop mass starvation? This issue has nothing to do with individual scientists and their credibility, it's just a matter of waking up. The only downside is the need to relocate major cities, but that only has to be done once, so why not start planning for it instead of promising $100 bazillion to poor countries to stop global warming when we all know they'll just steal it and party?

  • cxt


    It is also “too bad” that people claiming “refute” things always seem to do it by:

    A-Not providing actual proofs—they simply assert such things.

    B-Conduct what has been called “argument by link”—a generally fallacious method of argumentation where specific points are not addressed–merely asserted, by highlighting a link with the CLAIM that it is indeed concrete refutation.

  • tlwinslow

    That's better than playing batter up like you do :) My link was just to my own web page in case anybody wants to email me.

    There is no need to prove that enough CO2 pumped into the atmosphere will heat the Earth up, just look at Venus. The current global warming debate is about whether and how much it's happening now with the pathetically small levels of CO2 now in Da Air, which is counterproductive. There is also no debate that CO2 helps plants grow, they breathe it, ask any greenhouse operator why they pump it in, or why even Galore calls it Greenhouse Gas. The whole GW debate has become a political program for redistribution of wealth globally using it as a banner, which is so sad since the longterm problem of global starvation can't be avoided much longer, and once billions are starving a year no redistribution of anything will stop it.

    Pump Pump Pump That CO2 and Eat More Dino Steak! (my new slogan :)

  • Barry Cooper


    Let me ask you one simple question: given that CO2 levels have been at least 5x what they are today–this is disputed by no one, and I first read it in the New York Times–why are global warming cultists claiming that disaster will result now, when it did not then?

    On the contrary, plants grew larger, and longer, and large animals evolved to eat them.

    And if you want to talk about “coastline” BS, then that is a question of cost/benefit isn't it? The cost to protect coastlines, and the costs of wrecking the global economy–and in the process damaging democratic instiutions and free market autonomy–versus the benefits of longer growing seasons across more of Earth's surface and the benefits of continued unrestricted carbon fuel use to lift poor people out of poverty, so less of them live short miserable lives.

  • gpcase

    Managing complex environments (i.e., preserving the status quo) has not only proven to be beyond our ability, but rests on at least one faulty premise: that what we have now, or in the recent past, is normal and preferrable to natural changes.

    When the glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age, they left a barren, scarred wasteland. Centuries passed by as new plant growth emerged and various species found the warming planet more hospitable. Fire, increased rainfall, further warming and rising CO2 displaced these “young” forests with plant species more suitable to the changing climate. In time the “older” growth was taken over by “preditory” or “opportunistic” tree species. This evolution played itself out in several stages until what we call “old growth” forests emerged relatively recently in the last millennium.

    Forest management in the 20th century, such as fire supression, literally backfired. Our levees in New Orleans failed to hold back the flood waters and canals across the Gulf states damaged the wetlands' natural filtering system. This all demonstrates human folly – our conceit that experts can (or should) maintain complex environments just as we find them today. Managing CO2 levels however would do real damage to our freedom and prosperity.

    Global warming alarmism exhibits the same human folloy, but it has taken on a quasi religious tone and has been hijacked by the most zealous converts. So-called deniers are treated as heretics who are now mocked, sequestered from major news outlets and are routinley denounced, punished and “excommunicated” through the funding of grants and access to peer-reviewed journals (according to leaked emails).

    These are not the actions of scientists in the pursuit of truth, but ideologues in pursuit power and prestige as well as a fatal conceit, that regular folks cannot know what's in their best interest and must be governed by their self-anointed superiors. This philosophical premise lies at the heart of both ancient slavery and modern totalitarianism. Its only cure is to understand the philosophy that supports liberty and freedom and the wisdom and courage to protect our birthright.

  • Kenneth Kirchner

    The product is as advertised on the internet

  • David Richardson

    i replace a 15 year ancient unit. the replacement was exact in every way except the nametplate which read Nataulus rather than Broan. it is obviously the same fine unit

  • Randall Goon

    Their climber was so skilled it made taking down the diseased tree look easy. We have had some real winners?!?!?

  • SWTenner

    Another fine example of what Front Page readers have learned to expect

    Counterfactual drivel.