Cause of Excess CO2




Since the formation of the earth roughly 4.567 billion years ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has shown significant “natural” variability [being as much as twenty times higher in the distant past and some 4-5 times higher when most plants evolved] but in no case has ever been more than an extremely minor constituent [1].




This is somewhat surprising since all plant life on earth gets roughly half of its entire mass from this trace gas which is currently present at only about one molecule in 2500.   As a consequence, if the democrats managed to scrub all the CO2 pollution from the atmosphere, they would kill every living thing on earth.   This is because below about 250-150 ppm of CO2, all plants stop growing and die.   This is a problem because not only would the food chain collapse but also because all the free oxygen on earth is produced by plants.


One other item of note is that historical CO2 levels are NOT correlated with global temperatures.   This should not be surprising since CO2 molecules are less abundant than water molecules by a factor of from 25 to 100 [i.e. H2O is 1-4% and CO2 is currently less than 0.04%].  Also each CO2 molecule has about one eighth the warming effect of an H20 molecule.  Also CO2 is both saturated and its infrared spectra is masked by identical absorption bands in H20.   Also the “feedback” effect of excess CO2 is strongly negative reducing even the insignificant (nearly immeasurable) warming theoretically predicted.  The net result is that CO2 amounts to 2-3% of the entire global warming “greenhouse” effect and mankind’s contribution is significantly less than even that small amount.




There are two major sources and sinks of CO2 on earth which are roughly in equilibrium with the paltry amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, namely the plants on the land and dissolved in the world’s oceans.  And the amount of CO2 in the ocean vastly outweighs all other sources and for all practical purposes is the sole reservoir determining equilibrium concentrations in the atmosphere.


As the temperature of the earth naturally warms, the oceans release CO2 into the air benefiting everybody.  The graph for the solubility of CO2 in water is given below [2] and is strongly dependent on temperature.

The second largest, but minor, source of CO2 is in plants.  As plants grow in the spring summer they remove CO2 from the air, and return this in winter when they die and decay.  And since the Northern hemisphere is roughly 40% land as compared to the Southern which is only 20% land, the imbalance creates a predictable seasonal fluctuation.



Or when the same data [3] is plotted at full scale, we can get a better idea of relative contributions as follows [4];



More CO2 in the air, because of a warming ocean, means more plant life on earth, perhaps 10-20% over the last century.  And because plants prefer the C-12 isotope of carbon over the less abundant C-13 isotope, this tends to obscure any human contribution to excess CO2.



Despite claims by global warming lawyers and politicians in the IPCC that excess CO2 once emitted into the air remains for hundreds of years before equilibrium is again established [5], actual observations indicate otherwise.  From the end of WWII in 1945 to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (NTBT) in 1963, nuclear weapons exploded above ground generated a spike in carbon-14 in the atmosphere.   Measurements of how fast this rare isotope of carbon in CO2 is naturally removed from the air gives a half life for all isotopes of CO2 of about 5 years [6].   Also because this radioactive CO2 is incorporated by plants and slowly released, the actual half life with respect to oceanic equilibrium must be even less.  The final number is calculated to be actually only four years.




The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is at historically extremely low levels [previously in earth’s history was 20 times more abundant].  This decrease over the last tens of millions of years is a real threat to life on earth because any much lower, e.g. around 250-180 ppm, would cause all the plants on earth to die eliminating the food chain.   But in any event the current increase is due to equilibrium with dissolved gases in the oceans as the Earth has been warming over the last 3-4 centuries coming out of the Little Ice Age, which massively dominates all other sources.  And it is the first 200 feet below the sea surface that is well mixed and contributes the largest amount. 


Minor and transient fluctuations come from a variety of sources (4 ppm/year from humans and 114 ppm/year from vegetation).   Simple considerations place an upper limit on human contributions to the yearly increase of CO2 to less than 1/3rd but more likely less than 5-10% of the total annual increase [7].  We know this because in times of economic depression when the trivial amount of human CO2 emissions are reduced or during times of war when they are significantly increased, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 does NOT respond in kind [8].  Rather the only correlation is to ocean temperatures.




The carbon atom in CO2 comes in three different versions C12, C13, and C14.  These “isotopes” are chemically identical but have slightly different weights.  The first two are stable but the third, C14, is radioactive decaying with a half life of 5730 years.  It is thus extremely rare amounting to about one carbon atom in a trillion.   C14 is continuously being created by cosmic rays and is generated in large amounts in atomic bombs and unevenly distributed by tests above ground which ended in 1963.


C13 is also rare but only relatively so.   This isotope is about 1.106% of all carbon atoms in the air and ground and dissolved in the oceans.  Plants on the other hand have a slight preference for the lightest carbon isotope, C12.   This decreases the percentage of C13 from the table below [9]


Plant Type

% of C13















Note that fossil fuels like coal and oil are derived from plants and thus have less C13 as well.   Because the amount of green growing things on earth has increased by 15-30% because of excess CO2 in the air over the last century or so and because vegetation dominates the carbon cycle (two orders of magnitude greater than human contributions), it is NOT possible to point to C13/C12 ratios as a human footprint [10-11].   Think we need more science education?




Although the increase of CO2 in the air coincides only with a warming earth coming out of the Little Ice Age (LIA) and from a variety of real world measurements demonstrates NO correlation to human emissions, alarmists continue to blame SUVs on the world’s troubles.   As part of their charter to monitor the earth, NASA in 2014 launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) dedicated to mapping various sources and sinks of CO2 across the globe [12].

And the initial results are as expected.  Although CO2 tends to be well mixed across the globe, small variations on the order of 10 ppm are evident and are ALWAYS found downwind of a warming sea surface and not downwind of major urban centers with the attendant sources of man-made CO2 emissions [13].




That IPCC models continue to miss-represent CO2 lifetimes and human contributions from the simplest of theoretical considerations indicates a political agenda rather than a scientific one.  Does anyone still really think we need massive tax increases to address the non-existent problem of climate change whose “remedies” even if fully implemented would have no effect?    Rather CO2 increases and even a warming earth are so beneficial we would have to be insane to even think about reversing it.


But there is another evil gas in the atmosphere which is 500 times more abundant than CO2.   It is the sole cause of deadly fires on earth killing many people annually and this pernicious molecule is called oxygen.   Politicians might want to tax this pollutant and perhaps, not eliminate it entirely, but just reduce it a little.  As these thoughts exactly parallel the situation with CO2, which is also essential for life on earth, this is hardly a farfetched proposal.








5.      Climate Change. The IPCC Scientific Assessment in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” by Houghton, J.T., Jenkins, G.J. & Ephraums, J.J. (Eds.) in Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: page 365 (1990).

6.      Summary at

“Potential dependence of global warming on the Residence Time in the atmosphere of anthropogenically sourced carbon dioxide” by Essenhigh, R.E. in Energy & Fuels 23: 2773-2784 (2009)

“Carbon cycle modelling and the residence time of natural and anthropogenic atmospheric CO2: on the construction of the Greenhouse Effect Global Warming" by Segalstad, T. V. (1998). In: Bate, R. (Ed.): Global warming: the continuing debate. ESEF, Cambridge, U.K. [ISBN 0952773422]: 184-219.



“The Phase Relation between Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Global Temperature”, by O. Humlum, K. Stordahl, and J.E. Solheim in Department of Geosciences, Univ. of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047 Blindem, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.