Corrections to CO2 Post

This is an update correcting a previous post Fear Not CO2!  I discovered math errors that invalidated the main conclusion.  I apologize for not seeing the problem before posting.

At Quora Paul Noel answers the question Is climate change the biggest catastrophic risk facing humanity today? Text below in italics with my bolds

NO it is not even an issue you need to worry about.

Look closely. The biological adaptation is eating up the CO2 almost as fast as it is being emitted and the adaptation is getting faster every year.

Out of the over 38 GT output in 2019 only 0.02 GT will not be sequestered naturally and by next year that will be gone. The plants are eating up the CO2 just a few days after the release. They are happily eating it up just fine. You don’t even need to plant trees. Nothing against trees here. I like them.

This is the TRUMP CARD on the game. With this known, it is impossible to imagine the problems proposed are happening regardless of all other issues.

Correction Update

I reblogged an answer from Quora with an analysis and conclusions new to me. I thought it interesting if it held up to scrutiny.. Afterward I became uncomfortable when double checking the math, and so I am retracting my support. One smaller issue was noted in my post regarding CO2 having a larger weight (44) than the average air molecule (29). Thus calculating CO2 mass in the atmosphere should apply a ratio of 1.52. That does not in itself materially affect the finding.

The Table produced by Paul Noel is shown above..

The more substantial issue is having equivalent units of mass for comparing atmospheric CO2 and human emissions of CO2. The proper unit is Gigatons since that is how emissions are reported. One GT is defined as 1 billion (10^9) metric tons and 1 metric ton is 1000 (10^3) kilograms. So one GT is 10^12 kg.

The mass of the atmosphere is calculated using air pressure and area, with a little variation in the results obtained by researchers. A typical standard is 5.148 x 10^18 kg. That converts to 5148000 x 10^12 kg or 5148000 GT. Once that value is plugged into the table, the results are very different. I had recognized that 10^15 was not GT, but thought it was only mislabeling. Later I found that the comparison was distorted in the process.

My revised Table 1 applies a weighted calculation for CO2 compared to average air molecules and derives masses and percentages using GT consistently.

It is clear that the claim of 99% sequestration of emissions is an artifact of faulty math. A better approximation is 57% for emissions reduced by natural fluxes.

This does not mean we should fear CO2. For one thing the greening of the planet and record annual crop yields are a great benefit from both warming and higher atmospheric CO2. It is also the case that estimates of human emissions (fraught with uncertainty) are small compared to natural fluxes, which are estimated with error ranges exceeding emission amounts. Further, the sensitivity of temperature to rising CO2 is assumed to lie in a wide range.

My views on the CO2 cycle are in the posts:

CO2 Fluxes, Sources and Sinks

Who to Blame for Rising CO2?


  1. Hifast · January 4, 2020

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


  2. Joe Selvaggi · January 5, 2020

    So whilst ~99% of emitted CO2 is being quickly sequestered, then what are the primary causes for the ~100ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past century? Why aren’t these also being sequestered as quickly? Why the ~100ppm increase?


    • Ron Clutz · January 5, 2020

      Thanks for commening Joe. I have corrected the post after finding out the math errors.


  3. Joe Selvaggi · January 5, 2020

    (I accidentally unfollowed comments on this thread).


  4. cognog2 · January 5, 2020

    I am surprised that the Quora moderators allowed this debate to take place; for IMO it has an alarmist bias. It even allows one commentator to auto mute any responses to his rants. I also get zapped by the mods occasionally, even though very careful to avoid aggression or accusations, much to my puzzlement; with some alarmist posts being really very aggressive and derogatory.


  5. Raymond · January 8, 2020

    Hello Ron

    Your correction adds up. I just did a series of infographics on CO2. Basic charts

    Link to the Charts.

    I you would like to post these for the general public to learn about CO2 I would be more than happy to provide them. I will be adding more charts but at the moment I have 10.

    – N° 1 Earth‘s atmospheric composition
    – N° 2 Natural sources of CO2 emissions
    – N° 3 Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions
    – N° 4 CO2  – Carbon dioxide molecule
    – N° 5 The global carbon cycle
    – N° 6 Carbon and plant respiration
    – N° 7 Plant categories and abundance (C3, C4 & CAM Plants)
    – N° 8 Photosynthesis, the C3 vs C4 gap
    – N° 9 Plant respiration and CO2  
    – N° 10 The logarithmic temperature rise of higher CO2 levels.

    Most people have no idea how much CO2 is in the air or let alone how much is naturally produced and how much is man-made. The list is long of lack of knowledge. The media is taking advantage of this, let alone the what the green movement is doing with it.

    What do you think? Would you like to use them for your blog?

    My only request is that the design be referred to my studio (RiC-Communications for the design development of the infographics)

    Cheers Ray


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