Elemental Carbon and Sodium Sue to Redeem Their Reputations

April 1, 2024
Two essential elements resent being maligned for the implications of their higher-level molecules.

This article is part of the April 1st series in the Humor section of our Series Library.

Representatives of the recently formed Society for Elemental Justice (SEJ) announced that they’re suing major media and related institutions for misuse of the basic terms “carbon” and “sodium” in place of the full molecule designations “carbon dioxide” (CO2) and “sodium chloride” (NaCl). Speaking on behalf of these vital elements, SEJ says these elements are constantly being libeled and slandered when they’re cited as sources of climate or health issues.

The spokesperson noted that “carbon” (atomic number 6, symbol C) is a vital building block for life as well as many industrial processes and products, whether it’s seen as graphite, diamonds, or many other allotropic forms (see figure). Further, carbon is harmless in its elemental state. Sodium (atomic number 11, symbol Na) is also being maligned: The soft metal is somewhat hazardous in its pure state, yet needed for many scientific and industrial processes and products.

In other words, carbon is not an “enemy,” nor is sodium. After all, no one calls water “hydrogen”—short for hydrogen dioxide—and then says water is dangerous as both hydrogen and oxygen are explosive in higher concentrations.

That’s why they claim referring to them as “carbon capture,” “carbon emissions,” and excessive “sodium” in the diet is actually inaccurate, casting aspersions and detrimental publicity on these two elements that serve so many roles in basic human life as well as industrialized society. 

Representatives speaking for the two elements say that lazy journalists (at best) or ignorant ones (at worst) casually use the first half of the actual molecule name, without grasping the confusion it causes.

“It’s like saying ‘Joe’ instead of ‘Joe Smith’ and thereby linking to all those people named ‘Joe,’” said a society spokesperson. The spokesperson also admitted it wasn’t clear what actual damage compensation would be demanded or could be expected, or where the suit would be filed.

Nonetheless, the spokesperson was adamant that these elements had the right to not be maligned and misrepresented, especially by those who wouldn’t know elemental carbon or sodium if they ran into it either. “It’s somewhat analogous to using ‘microwave’ in place of ‘microwave oven,’ but that apparently doesn’t cause confusion as a result of the verbal context. However, it’s not the same with carbon and sodium.”

Read more articles in our April 1st series in the Humor section of our Series Library.

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