CO2: The new Indulgencies Trade

Jan 25 2010

Umberto Mazzei *

The essential element of indulgences is assigning a person the merits made by others. The basic doctrine was that prayer and good works had a value in divine mercy that accumulated and became the “Treasury of the Church”, a mercy account in the other world. The initial deposit would have been the merits of Jesus, then the merits of the saints and of thousands of convents and millions of devotees raising their prayers to heaven. These holy emissions built the church an account of several trillions in heavenly mercy[i]. The church sold shares of its treasure to sinners who did the good work of giving the church sound money, of this world.

History tells how this greedy trick created a market known where indulgencies were traded. That traffic was one of the most serious allegations put forward by the Protestant rebellion and a scandal that forced reform in the Catholic Church itself.

Now there is talk about skies again and again about indulgences. The rich buy “Carbon Credits” to have their emissions forgiven and force developing countries to keep their present emission levels. The effect is to freeze the uneven distribution of global wealth. As in WTO, with subsidies to the agriculture of the rich that ruin the agriculture of the poor. It is again the duty of the poor to save the planet and redeem the rich sinners. The worst is that the hysteria created around CO2 – a beneficial gas- deviates towards a future ghost the attention that deserves present and very real pollution.

The real environmental pollution

The planet is polluted and keeps being polluted. One cause is ignorance, but the main one is greed, the preaching of profit as the supreme end. Stimulate consumption to earn more and save, letting the air, land or sea be permeated with toxic waste. Opencast mining. Oil black lakes, rivers and beaches. Over-fishing. Forests logged to plant soy and oil palm. Plastic and toxic waste into seas. Indiscriminate garbage. Toxic discharge into aquifers. NATO radioactive ammunition causing deformed babies. Israeli cluster bombs killing Lebanese children. The list is long, but no one is calling for a world summit to fix it.

Almost all the pollution can be cleaned and restored, with an effort. Europe already recovered many lakes, rivers and forests. A high level of education and public environmental awareness forced its politicians to act, while remaining a major industrial power. The country most contaminated with toxic residues are the United States -which also produces 30% of world CO2 emissions, but it is rarely mentioned. The Pentagon pollutes the world with endless wars and from some 800 bases, but those emissions are not counted. In all negotiations – Kyoto or Copenhagen- U.S. calls to exclude Pentagon contamination[ii], to not measure it, for security reasons, obviously.

The demonization of CO2

The celestial purity is again haunted by a devil. Again, the devil is a fallen angel: CO2, the gas that by photosynthesis produces oxygen. The plants decay when the CO2 level is down to 220 ppm[iii] and at 160 ppm they die. They are at their best at around 1000 pmm.

Air is a mixture of gases, 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of other gases, including CO2. That fraction of CO2[iv] varies with the oceans: the cold water absorbs CO2 and releases hot water. The oceans store about 25% of CO2 for plants and marine life. CO2 is part of human respiration. Beware, because suddenly we may be taxed for breathing.

There is a campaign to blame to the CO2 for an increase in global temperature. The most notorious trumpeter of the indictment is Al Gore, who is not a scientist, but an American politician. His documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” manipulates from the very title. His most evident mistake is that seas are heated by CO2 emissions, when it is the reverse what happens; the sea heats up first and then emits more CO2. It is a basic scientific fact and also explains the parallel ascending curves of temperature and CO2. I fear it is another case of selling some mischief by labelling the opposite: a convenient lie.

We know from high school, that Earth temperature varies according to solar radiation. Life exists in Earth because of a “greenhouse effect” and the main gas that causes it is water vapour, the clouds. The thesis of “Antrophogenic Global Warming” seems to exploit for political gain sympathy from those who want to defend our environment from pollution. A pretext is being fabricated to impose a universal authority that manages the use of fossil energy, creates new taxes, creates another false stocks market and develops a market for environmental goods that will use technology from the usual transnational corporations. In the mean time, it will deviate attention from the real pollution.

Contradictions from the very origin

In 1988, the UN created an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control- IPCC-, which hired a group of climate scientists. In 1995, scientists presented a draft that said:
“1. None of the studies has shown clear evidence of climate changes due to greenhouse gases. 2. No study has positively attributed any climate change to anthropogenic causes.”

In the IPCC final Summary Report for lawmakers, those two clear denials were supplanted by a statement which says: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” There was a scandal[v]. The scientists hired by the IPCC were outraged, many of them resigned and demanded their names be erased from the Final Report.

Thousands of scientists have signed their disagreement with the IPCC report. Someone may have been paid by oil companies, but they have good arguments. All of them say that there have always been global temperature changes, ice ages where the ice reached down to the Alps and warm periods (900 -1200) in which the icy Greenland was green and a Chinese fleet sailed across the Arctic. Another argument is that astronomers report an overall temperature increase in all the planets, because an increase in solar activity[vi]. No humans there.

Carbon Market

It is the favourite idea of big corporations, banks, their politicians and some NGOs. The market would be managed by a world authority that would set CO2 emissions levels. The volume of emissions allowed would be that of historical levels, that is, not diminishing but freezing them. Those who exceed their legal level of emissions can buy bonds to pay those who emit less than allowed. In Europe, there is something alike called Emissions Trading System -EU ETS and President Sarkosy has announced an indirect (consumer) carbon tax.

Freezing historical emissions is the essence of the proposal. Economic growth requires energy and this comes from fossil fuels that create CO2 and toxic gases. The carbon market is a mechanism to put a brake on developing countries and create a new stock market where to play with the emissions of dollars without funds that pollute the international economy.

Pandemonium in Copenhagen

The hidden purpose of the Copenhagen Summit was to put price on CO2. First, a paper previously “negotiated” with the usual “cooperative” developing countries was introduced. Access to the meetings was restricted under the pretext of giving precedence to countries represented by their presidents, thus excluding those represented by their Foreign Ministers. A clear violation of international law. Even then, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, present in Copenhagen, were also excluded.

Later on, something happened for the annals of diplomatic malpractice. Denmark’s First Minister, Anders Rasmussen, with the paper in his hand, ordered the countries to study it in an hour, approve it and finalize. Then he got up to leave, but the Secretariat invited him to stay because several delegations wanted to speak. He gave the word only to the usual ones.

The Venezuelan delegate, Claudia Salerno, hit the table with the banner to no avail, asking to speak. In the end, showing her bleeding hand she rebuked Rasmussen: “Must I have blood in my hands to be allowed to speak? It a disgrace!” Finally she took the floor, followed by Cuba, Bolivia and other ALBA delegations, all of them rejecting the paper.

Mr. Rasmussen listened but didn’t take notes, as does every president of a meeting. Then came the second “gaffe”, without further comment he asked how many countries were against, in order to vote. Venezuela put him in his place, reminding the audience that UN decisions are taken by consensus. Mr. Rasmussen called for a pause, and did not return. The meeting ended chaired by a Vice-President, from Bahamas, who did the right thing: to take note of the paper.


Fighting pollution is necessary and urgent. Putting the blame on CO2 for Climate Change seems a fabrication aimed at another goal: to control CO2, which is to control energy. There are those that want to create their entitlement to energy consumption and the right to deny it to others. The WTO is an example of what confirming historic levels means: those who gave farm subsidies can keep giving them, but it is prohibited to those that did not. We are not fools and we do not expect a different result. Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum.

*Umberto Mazzei is a PhD in Political Science from the University of Florence, and has been a professor in international economics in Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala. He is Director of the Institute of International Economic Relations in Geneva (www.ventanaglobal.info)


[i] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica,1947, en sacred-texts.com
[ii]Bryan Farrell: “The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism”, 2009 . Jeffrey Salmon: “National security and military policy issues involved in the Kyoto treaty,” George Marshal Institute, May 18, 1998: “complete military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions limits.”
[iii] parts per million. The number of carbon dioxide molecules (CO2) divided by the number of all other molecules present in any amount of air.
[iv] The percentage of CO2 in the air oscillates between 0,036 and 0,039
[v]Zbignew Jaworosky: CO2 : The greatest scandal of our time, Science, March 16, 2007. Tom Segalstad: The distribution of CO2 between Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, and Lithosphere; Minimal Influence from Anthropogenic CO2 on the Global “Greenhouse Effect,” 1995, Global Warming Debate, European Science & Environmental Forum, 1996.
[vi] Pier Corbyn et al.:www.weatheraction.com. “The most significant and persistent cycle of variation in the world’s temperature follows the 22-year magnetic cycle of the sun’s activity… IPCC uses the 11 warmer ones

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