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Frank O'Dwyer's blog

Volcanoes and CO2

Volcanoes and CO2 again. Bishop Hill notes the following:

74,000 years ago, the Toba volcano erupted in a VEI 7 explosion that pumped more than 10,000 times as much CO2 into the air as Mt. St. Helens did. At the maximum, Mt. St. Helens was giving off 22,000,000 kg of C02 daily, so Toba was putting out at least 22 billion kg per day. The ash cloud was so thick that it caused cooling that nearly wiped out the human race.

There are indications in the ice core records that show the cooling from Toba, but where is the global warming that should have resulted from all the CO2 put into the atmosphere? According to what I’ve read, the CO2 should have remained in the air long after the ash settled and that should have caused at least a warming spike, but there’s no sign of extraordinary warming in the climate records. Shouldn’t there always be a cooling/warming cycle after a volcano erupts? Cooling from the ash cloud, warming from the CO2 that lingers? Source

Although it’s fairly standard, whenever I see CO2 quoted in kg I wonder if the number is being inflated in order to talk about millions and billions and get a “such much!” effect. For example:

Listen up. Do you know how much C02 is in a bottle of carbonated cola? 2.2g is found in the average bottle. US consumption ALONE of these products is around 15 billion gallons. Consumption per capita in the US is around 50 gallons per annum. That equates to 132 million pounds of C02 entering the atmosphere EVERY year JUST from the USA. Now multiply that up by the global consumption factor and you get an idea of the menace that fizzy drinks represent to our planet.

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So let’s compare that Toba output to some others:

image

OK, so this is one of the most massive volcanic eruptions of the past 100,000 years and according to these numbers it’s still not putting out as much CO2 on its best day as humans are on an average day.

Another difference is that the likes of Toba doesn’t actually happen day after day, while humans can in theory keep the current level of output up for longer and have already been putting out a similarly large amount for many years. To take a very simplistic extrapolation (no account taken of population growth or changes in fossil fuel use), if you were to compare these outputs over a period of 100 years then it looks like this:

image

All in all it is difficult to come to the conclusion that volcanoes are outputting more CO2 than humans, whatever way you look at it.

So what about this:

There are indications in the ice core records that show the cooling from Toba, but where is the global warming that should have resulted from all the CO2 put into the atmosphere? According to what I’ve read,the CO2 should have remained in the air long after the ash settled and that should have caused at least a warming spike, but there’s no signof extraordinary warming in the climate records. Shouldn’t there always be a cooling/warming cycle after a volcano erupts? Cooling from the ashcloud, warming from the CO2 that lingers?

Well, first off, who says there should be such a warming? Toba is supposed to have produced a very large cooling which in turn we are told would lead to a reduction in CO2. If the key figure is the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere then who says such an eruption will lead to warming as stated? If it would lead to warming, how much warming is expected? This is hardly obvious. Furthermore, who says it didn’t warm accordingly? Where is the actual data?

technorati tags:globalwarming, volcanoes, co2

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