Most of the CO2 is not in the atmosphere. 98% of all CO2 is in the oceans (38,000 billion tons), and plants and soils (2,000 billion tons). Only 850 billion tons of CO2 is in the atmosphere (2% of the total CO2), and of that, less than 10% is man-made!

Over 90% of the atmospheric CO2 is produced naturally from decaying vegetation, fires, volcanoes, and the oceans. Also 80% of the world’s active volcanoes are under the sea bubbling out both liquid and gaseous CO2 and methane (and the sea is still alkaline). Indeed combustion reactions (power stations, fires, cars etc) produce CO2 and water, but it is the fine pollutant particles and chemicals (like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen) resulting from incomplete combustion that are the major problems affecting local temperatures, weather, as well as human health. Ruminating animals produce more greenhouse gases that all the buses, trucks and cars in the world combined!

Water by far the major greenhouse gas, cannot be controlled or taxed, so CO2 is measurable, blamed and potentially made taxable, even though most of it naturally occurring. But by contrast, in the sea, plankton growth from extra CO2 has grown tenfold over 50 years, and this is the main supplier of the oxygen that we breathe. Higher crop yields and greater vegetation growth rates have been reported worldwide due to the increased CO2 over the last 3 or so decades.

Dr Geoff Duffy, Professor Emeritus – Chemical Engineering, University of Auckland Fellow of the Royal Society, DEng, PhD, BSc, ASTC Dip, FRSNZ, FIChemE, CEng

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