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# Carbon dioxide emissions break growth records... plus fun with Math

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posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 01:13 PM

Global carbon dioxide emissions hit a record 9.1 billion tonnes in 2010, after a year of the highest growth ever, a new study has found.
"This is the highest total annual growth recorded, and the highest annual growth rate since 2003," reported an analysis by the Global Carbon Project published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Source Article

I'm sure there are plenty of climate change naysayers out there just waiting to jump all over this but for the purpose of this thread I am just going to assume these estimates are correct. I wanted to try and visualize exactly how much 9.1 billion tonnes of a gas like Carbon Dioxide was so I did a little high school chem class refresher and this is what I got. If my math is off please feel free to correct me.

First I calculated how many pounds in 9.1 billion tonnes:
Google gave me a value of 1.82 x 10^13 pounds.

Now I tried to figure out the volume of that much gas. I found this high school lab example that gave me the formula I needed (and actually the answer as well). To figure out the volume of 1 pound of Carbon Dioxide you use the following (and yes I know temp and pressure affect volumes of gas but not factored in here).
(454g/1 lb) x (1 mole/44g) x (22.4L/1 mole) = 231 L

That means that 1 pound of Carbon Dioxide takes up 231 L of space. That sounded like a lot to me but I believe it is correct.

So how much volume is 9.1 billion tonnes? (1.82 x (10^13)) x 231 = 4.2042 x 10^15 L

Since I still can't really visualize that number, lets see how many Olympic size swimming pools that is. According to Wikipedia the minimum size of an Olympic pool is 50m x 25m x 2m with a volume of 2,500,000 L.

So that means 4.2042 x 10^15 L of CO2 divided by 2,500,000 L = 1,681,680,000 swimming pools! That's certainly a lot of swimming pools but still hard to visualize so if we stuck all of those pools side by side, how much space would it cover?

Since one pool has a footprint of (50m x 25m) = 1,250m^2. The total footprint of 1,681,680,000 swimming pools is 2,102,100,000,000m^2 or 2,102,100,000 km^2!

2.1 trillion square kms? Since the Earth is approx. 510,072,000 square kms, We would have to cover the entire surface of the planet and stack those pools 4 high (or 8m deep). So in 1 year we put enough man made CO2 in the atmosphere to cover the entire surface of the planet 8m deep.

Now that I can visualize the volume of CO2 this planet produces in 1 year, the question is, how much can plants convert to oxygen? How much can the oceans absorb safely? I believe the Earth has the capability to balance itself from naturally occurring CO2 but can it really handle this much extra without any adverse affects?

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 01:24 PM

Speaking only for myself, I still won't be worrying too much about this. CO2 accounts for roughly .039% of our atmosphere (man's contribution to that smaller), has been SIGNIFICANTLY higher in the past without terribly significant or detrimental climate results (I believe to the tune of up to .6% of the atmosphere at times), temperature change has been shown to PRECEDE changes in CO2 levels historically (thanks for not explaining that "complex" relationship in your movie, Mr. Gore...), and I believe - could be wrong - I read many moons ago that water vapor has more significant greenhouse effects than does CO2, and accounts for about .4% of our atmosphere.

To me, it seem to be much ado about nothing. I don't doubt the climate is changing in a host of ways, but if man has anything to do with it - which I have my doubts about given similar changes taking place in our solar system - I don't think we've ID'd the actual culprit at this time.

Take care.

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 01:32 PM
Oh man we better stop using electricity and driving!~~@~!@~#~!#~

We should stop breathing, we need to save the oxygen in the atmosphere too

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 01:33 PM

You ask how much plants can absorb?
The answer is effectively nothing, because they always release their carbon after dying.
Some wood we chop up and put in a stove.
Some wood we use to make furniture or houses. They are usually burned to, after a while.
Some wood rots away and releases their carbon.
We worsen this process by deforestation and the growing of deserts. If he total plant mass decreases on land and in water (think algae) combined, the carbon binding capacity decreases.

The only way nature really takes carbon out of circulation is :
fast... acidification of the oceans.
slow...the shells of crustatia and coral reefs and diatoms in the sea.
Nature has been doing this for millions of years and with great success.

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 02:41 PM

You make an interesting point and I agree that this is a small percentage of our atmosphere. From my point of view though there has to be a 'tipping point' where to amount of man-made pollutants does cause some effect. My calculations only take into account one year of CO2, not including other gases and does not take into account how much we've dumped in all the years since we've started.

Even if that amount is still a small percentage, no body knows how much it too much. After all, only small amounts of asbestos, lead, arsenic in the human body can cause nasty health problems. Can't we safely assume that only small amounts of pollutants on the planet can also cause great harm?

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 02:43 PM

Originally posted by mnmcandiez
Oh man we better stop using electricity and driving!~~@~!@~#~!#~

We should stop breathing, we need to save the oxygen in the atmosphere too

Thanks for your contribution to the topic. May I suggest a career in politics when you can spend all your time pretending to solve the worlds problems?

I see your sarcasm and raise you one.

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 02:51 PM

Thanks for that info, you make a great point. If the largest 'recycler' of CO2 is the oceans then I think we'll eventually be in big trouble. If I remember correctly, 5 out of the 6 mass extinctions on the planet were a result is high CO2 levels in the oceans. Once the conditions are right, algae blooms could take over the oceans suffocating most ocean life. If people think we humans can survive in that scenario, they'd be wrong!

I realize this won't happen overnight by any means but I worry about what we're leaving for our future generations. I get the feeling they're not going to like us very much!

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 03:06 PM

Originally posted by fenceSitter

You make an interesting point and I agree that this is a small percentage of our atmosphere. From my point of view though there has to be a 'tipping point' where to amount of man-made pollutants does cause some effect. My calculations only take into account one year of CO2, not including other gases and does not take into account how much we've dumped in all the years since we've started.

Even if that amount is still a small percentage, no body knows how much it too much. After all, only small amounts of asbestos, lead, arsenic in the human body can cause nasty health problems. Can't we safely assume that only small amounts of pollutants on the planet can also cause great harm?

In some matters I would say so - but as I originally mentioned, earth's historic CO2 has been much higher without significant climate differences (at times, more than 10 times higher than today's amounts or anything we've seen recently), so in this case I would have to say no, unless there's possibility a cumulative/compounding effect occurring as result of interplay with other changes we've made - and I believe that would have to be pretty drastic.

If I've missed something or you have more info, please let me know...but at this time, we're coming up on around 400ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2, and I recall some ancient numbers being around 6000ppm. I don't doubt there might be SOME effect from what we're doing to CO2 level, but I also see it as either being very easy to shrug off or actually beneficial unless something else figures in as I mentioned.

Thanks, and be well.
edit on 12/5/2011 by Praetorius because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 03:49 PM

Yes if we kill our oceans , we will certainly die.
BTW the process of acidification can be self accelerating.

posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 03:51 PM

Cute and very informative. Thanks.

..But :sigh: ...I just wish there'd be more focus on all the pollutants and contaminants that are making people, animals, plants and other lifeforms on this planet so very, very sick.

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