Question of the Day

Carbon Pollution

When politicians and journalists use the phrase "carbon pollution," to which of the following substances are they typically referring?

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There are more than 10 million different carbon compounds, but politicians and media outlets commonly use the term "carbon pollution" to refer to just one of them: carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary manmade greenhouse gas. Calling CO2 "carbon" is unscientific because CO2 is not carbon, just like H2O (water) is not hydrogen, much less "hydrogen pollution." Calling CO2 "carbon pollution" is also misleading because it conflates CO2 - a colorless, odorless, and relatively nontoxic gas - with highly noxious substances like carbon monoxide and black carbon. Amplifying the deceit, media outlets have published articles and commentaries that call CO2 "carbon pollution" while showing pictures of smokestacks emitting soot.

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