…any more than “hydrogen” is a synonym for “H2O.”
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) seems a little confused on this point.
I’ve noticed quite a few people, in various debates about environmental matters, referring to “carbon” as generically a bad thing. Some of them are probably just using it as a shorthand for carbon dioxide, in order to save syllables or characters—others, though, really do seem to think that the discussion is about some sinister product of the Industrial Revolution, rather than the natural compound that they exhale with every breath and that is required for the growth of plants. Maybe they think it’s about carbon particulates.
The situation isn’t helped by various corporations which, when promoting their products/technologies on environmental grounds, now almost always talk about how they reduce carbon, or at best carbon dioxide, rather than talking about reductions in real air pollution in the form of mercury, sulfur dioxide, etc. The terms “carbon” and “carbon dioxide” are now generally being used as shorthand for atmospheric Bad Things.
Returning to Boxer, the levels of her ignorance and demagoguery are astonishing–but we should not forget also her amazing arrogance and self-centeredness.