In what kind of world are we living when carbon dioxide, something required for the survival of all plant life, is considered a pollutant? We have stepped through the looking glass. Right is left, and up is down.

In this county, we have people who are concerned about the level of CO2 in our atmosphere. And of course, we have people who work to exploit those concerns for reasons that are best described as crass.

The agitators first warned about global warming. Those dire predictions did not pan out as predicted. Average global temperatures have been essentially flat for 16 years. That does not mean temperatures in specific areas have not increased. No doubt, they have. But on average, global temperatures today are pretty much what they were toward the end of the last century.

So agitators changed terminology. Now the big bad wolf huffing, puffing and trying to blow our house down is climate change. For those who profit from concerns about our climate, it was a brilliant stroke of marketing genius. The climate is always changing.

Of course, the climate change they talk about is cataclysmic, and CO2 is bringing the calamity. In the course of claiming the world is going to end, alarmists have recently outdone themselves in the area of sensationalism. For example, on April 29, Pete Kasperowicz blogged in The Hill, an online news outlet, that some in Washington claim “climate change ... could even drive poor women to transactional sex...” That’s over the top.

Perhaps climate change rhetoric has become so shrill because new thoughts are emerging that fundamentally challenge climate change assumptions, specifically, that CO2 is harmful and that CO2 drives climate change.

An example of emerging thought comes from Mike Adams, editor of On June 2, he wrote: “Thank goodness carbon dioxide levels are finally rising ever so slightly in our atmosphere, bringing much-needed carbon dioxide to the plants and forests of the world which have been starving for CO2. The lack of CO2 in the atmosphere is one of the most devastating limiting factors for plant growth and reforestation of the planet, and at just 400ppm — that’s just 400 micrograms per kilogram — carbon dioxide is so low that Earth’s plant life can barely breathe.”

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Adams’ notion that the world may actually benefit from higher CO2 is but one crack of many developing in the theory of man-made global warming, climate change or whatever one wants to call it.

Another comes from Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, commonly called JP by Danes. It is an independent daily newspaper with a circulation among Denmark’s highest. Its print edition on Aug. 7 carried a two-page article bearing the headline: “The behavior of the sun may trigger a new little ice age,” along with this sub-headline: “Defying all predictions, the globe may be on the road toward a new little ice age with much colder winters.”

It will be interesting to see what effort is made to dismiss the paper, the reporter and the experts quoted as climate heretics.

Does new thinking mean we should become complacent about climate change concerns? No. But we should keep an open mind and not overreact.

When you next hear or read something by someone fomenting fear about climate change, ask, is up, down, is right, left? If the answer is yes, that person may have come through the looking glass.

A make-believe world is the only place something needed by plants to photosynthesize would be called a pollutant. It’s crazy. Plants need CO2 to survive. It is essential to life.

Trent Benedetti is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Improve North County, and a longtime local business owner.