Category Archives: Ecology

Picking a Bone With Some Carbon Numbers

The following appeared earlier this month at Canadian Energy Issues:

It takes roughly 7.8 billion metric tons of CO2 dumped into the global air to increase the concentration by one part per million (according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at the Oak Ridge lab in Tennessee). One year ago the global concentration hit 400 ppm for the very first time. So for it to have gone from 400 to 404.65 ppm means we humans have, collectively, in the space of a single year, dumped 36.27 billion tons of the stuff into our air.

I see two possible issues with this.

First, it makes the assumption that the increase in carbon concentration is completely due to human activity. There are other sources of CO2 emissions, e.g., respiration, decay, volcanoes and ocean diffusion.

Second, it does not appear to take into account any CO2 sequestration that may be happening.  The oceans are currently a net absorber of CO2. Plants absorb CO2.

Is it true that all other sources and sinks of CO2 balance so that any net change in atmospheric carbon is due to an increase or decrease human “dumping?”

What am I missing?

Quote via The Next Big Future and which quoted this paragraph without question.

NB: I am not questioning the idea that humans are having a negative impact just the numbers.  We humans need to quite fouling our nest!