We are told we must ‘reduce carbon’ or ‘carbon emissions’. To do this, we need to engage in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘carbon capture and storage’ and even build up ‘carbon credits’ to offset our ‘carbon liabilities’.
What on Earth is all that about? ‘Carbon’ is a solid, naturally occurring, non-toxic element found in all living things. Carbon forms thousands of compounds, much more than any other element. Everything from medicines to trees to oil to our own bodies and those of all other creatures are made of carbon compounds.
Ignoring the oxygen atoms and calling CO2 merely 'carbon' makes about as much sense as ignoring the oxygen in water (H2O) and calling it 'hydrogen'. That might be an effective PR tool for anti-hydro power campaigners but most of the public would regard such a communications trick as ridiculous. The 'CO2 is carbon' mistake is no less farcical. Throwing a high graphite pencil up into the air could be considered as more a ‘carbon emission’ than is the CO2 from coal stations.