Correcting CO2 perceptions and myths about CO2 forcing

Bud Bromley, July 19, 2022

Atmospheric CO2 concentration today is the same as it would be if humans never existed.  God, knowing that humans would mess up His work, arranged the laws of chemistry and physics such that humans cannot permanently increase or decrease CO2 in the atmosphere by adding or subtracting CO2.  Any increase or decrease is a temporary disturbance to the ongoing trend in CO2 concentration.

Diffusion of CO2 gas into and out of the surface of water is controlled by the molecular weight of CO2 and the temperature of the water’s surface.  More specifically, the diffusivity coefficient of any gas into the surface of any liquid is a function of the inverse of the square root of the molecular weight of the gas.  

Humans adding or removing CO2 gas into or out of the atmosphere does not alter the fixed ratio of non-ionized CO2 gas in the ocean surface versus CO2 gas in the air above the surface. The amount of CO2 gas added to the atmosphere by humans burning fossil fuels only temporarily disrupts the ratio, then the two relative concentrations reset to the ratio set by the molecular weight and temperature of the surface.  This is Graham’s Law and Henry’s Law, both laws are well known to chemists and chemical engineers since the 1800s, but largely ignored by climatologists.  These laws apply to the diffusion of all trace gases into and out of all liquids, for example gas diffusion into and out of lung tissue, and diffusion into and out of plant tissue, and scientific measurements by gas chromatography.  

The following graph is usually shown in schools, the media and by government agencies.  This is the record of measurements of net global average CO2 concentration in dry air.   The black line is the average of the red line.  The red line is the difference between total CO2 absorption by all of nature and humans versus total CO2 emissions by all of nature and humans.  It is commonly called “The Keeling Curve”.  This is NOT human emissions, though that is rarely mentioned.  As will shown in this paper, human emissions are far too small to be shown on the Keeling curve as it is normally represented. The Keeling curve is net global average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere due to all sources, human and natural.  “Net” means total absorptions of CO2 into all sinks have been subtracted from total emissions of CO2 from all sources.

Note in the graph above, the left-hand vertical axis is parts per million (ppm) of CO2 gas in dry atmosphere; that is, 1 molecule of CO2 gas and 999,999 molecules of air, mostly nitrogen and oxygen. 

If we take these same NOAA/Scripps data as shown above and plot it more realistically, we get the following graph by Dr. Roy Spencer.  He plotted the same data as above but with the left-hand vertical axis set to the data range of zero to 1 million ppm.  Keep in mind that this is net global average CO2 concentration from all sources human and natural, not human CO2 concentration. 

Does this amount or growth of CO2 look like something to fear?

And in the next few graphs, Dr. Spencer plots again the same data as above, but merely changes the left-hand vertical axis to show how this changes the perception of the data.

The following Keeling curve graph is the same data as all of the above graphs.  Notice that it plots only 0.01% of the atmosphere, i.e., 100 ppm CO2 per 1,000,000 ppm of atmosphereThe left-hand vertical axis is now only about 320 ppm to about 420 ppm.  The left-hand vertical axis has been changed to create the perception of rapid growth of CO2

The orange triangle in the graph below is the increase in net CO2 concentration due to all sources human and natural since 1971, which is 88 ppm.  The non-rectangular orange quadrangle is net global atmospheric concentration. These are measured by NOAA/Scripps at Mauna Loa.  It is not a theory, estimate, or computer model.  The barely visible blue quadrangle is average total human emissions between 1971 and Dec 31, 2020, based on the 4.8 ppm Friedlingstein et al calculation for 2020. But even this 4.8 ppm is too high because this is human emissions only, i.e., the amount of human CO2 emissions which were absorbed into the environment in 2020 have not been subtracted from calculated human CO2 emissions in 2020.  We cannot subtract it because we do not know how much human CO2 is absorbed.  So, this blue quadrangle area is human emissions only.

Let’s estimate maximum possible net human emissions:

• 2 Jan 2020, MLO reported 4 CO2 flask measurements for Jan 2, 2020. Average 412.9875 ppm
• 31 Jan 2020, MLO reported 4 CO2 flask measurement for Jan 31, 2020. Average 415.5225 ppm
• Then, CO2 measured increase due to all sources, human and natural combined, for year 2020 is 2.5 ppm, (i.e., 415.5 ppm minus 413 ppm.)

Friedlingstein, et al., calculate human emissions is 4.8 ppm for 2020.  4.8 ppm minus 2.5 ppm equals 2.3 ppm.  Thus, based on Friedlingstein et al, the implied net human emissions cannot exceed 2.3 ppm for 2020. 

Note, on the NOAA/Scripps “Keeling curve” above titled “Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Laboratory” and as typically shown to the public, the lower end of the left-hand vertical axis is chopped off below about 310 ppm. In other words, maximum possible human emissions at 2.3 ppm in 2020 cannot be shown on the Keeling curve. If maximum possible net human emissions of 2.3 ppm in 2020 were plotted on Dr. Roy Spencer’s graph of 0.1% of the atmosphere, then maximum possible net human emissions would appear as a nearly flat line barely distinguishable from the horizontal axis.

Net human emissions may be compared to net global emissions by comparing the area of the orange quadrangle to the area of less than half of the barely visible blue quadrangle in the graph below, since both are CO2 amounts which are cumulating over time.     

The blue human area is about 113 ppm years.  The orange net total area is about 18205 ppm years.  113 divided by 18205 is about 0.62%.  Thus, using the implication of Friedlingstein et al estimates, net human emissions cannot exceed 0.62% of net global CO2 emissions.  18205 divided by 113 is about 161.  So, net average global CO2 concentration is about 161 times maximum possible net human CO2 emissions.

Let’s compare the two slopes, i.e., the two growth rates.  Recall the formula for slope is y = mx + b.  Using 49 years (i.e., 1971 to 2020), the x = 49 years for both.  As shown above, by the end of 2020, net human emissions can not exceed 0.62% of net global CO2 concentration.  Let’s assume that same percentage applied in 1971.  Thus 0.0062 times 327.5 ppm in 1971 = 2 ppm = b, (i.e., the y intercept in the calculation of net human CO2 growth rate.)  The maximum possible human y value is 2.3 ppm, based on Friedlingstein et al., as shown above.  Then, for net global CO2 rate of change, 327.5 ppm in 1971 is b (i.e., the y intercept), and 415.5 ppm is y, for net global emission at the end of 2020. 

Calculating these two slopes, then the maximum possible average annual rate of growth of net human emissions is 0.0061 ppm per year.  Meanwhile, the average annual rate of growth of net global CO2 concentration is 1.8 ppm per year.  In other words, the average annual growth rate of net global CO2 emissions is 295 times faster than average annual growth rate of maximum possible net human emissions.   

Obviously, human CO2 emissions are trivial and negligible with regard to net global CO2 concentration and rate of change of net global CO2 concentration. 

There is also an important point of logic to be made here:  If human CO2 were causing the increase in total CO2, then the slope of human CO2 net emissions MUST BE either parallel to the slope of net total emissions or else intersect the slope of net total emissions.  For a cause-and-effect relationship to exist, then there MUST BE a positive correlation between the hypothetical cause and the hypothetical effect; THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.  Since the slope of the blue line and the slope of the orange line are diverging over time, then the correlation is negative.  In other words, the rate of increase in human CO2 CANNOT BE causing the rate of increase in total CO2.  This means human CO2 CANNOT BE the cause of, nor forcing, ANY significant effects (positive or negative) which co-vary with net global CO2 concentration.  These co-variables include climate change, warming or cooling, increased tree growth, increased greening, hurricanes, extinctions, drought, etc.    


Dr. Roy Spencer’s presentation can be viewed or downloaded at the link below.

Dlugokencky, E.J., J.W. Mund, A.M. Crotwell, M.J. Crotwell, and    K.W. Thoning (2021), Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Dry Air Mole Fractions from the NOAA GML Carbon Cycle Cooperative Global Air Sampling Network, 1968-2020, Version: 2021-07-30,

Friedlingstein et al. Friedlingstein, P., Jones, M. W., O’Sullivan, M., Andrew, R. M., Bakker, D. C. E., Hauck, J., Le Quéré, C., Peters, G. P., Peters, W., Pongratz, J., Sitch, S., Canadell, J. G., Ciais, P., Jackson, R. B., Alin, S. R., Anthoni, P., Bates, N. R., Becker, M., & Bellouin, N., (2021) Global Carbon Budget 2021, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss. [preprint],

Henry, W. (1803). Experiments on the quantity of gases absorbed by water, at different temperatures, and under different pressures. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 93: 29–274.

Thoning, K.W., Crotwell, A.M., & Mund, J.W. (2021). Atmospheric carbon dioxide dry air mole fractions from continuous measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, Barrow, Alaska, American Samoa and South Pole. 1973-2020, Version 2021-08-09. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML), Boulder, Colorado, USA Data Set Name: co2_mlo_surface-insitu_1_ccgg_DailyData. Description: Atmospheric carbon dioxide dry air mole fractions from quasi-continuous measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

About budbromley

Bud is a retired life sciences executive. Bud's entrepreneurial leadership exceeded three decades. He was the senior business development, marketing and sales executive at four public corporations, each company a supplier of analytical and life sciences instrumentation, software, consumables and service. Prior to those positions, his 19 year career in Hewlett-Packard Company's Analytical Products Group included worldwide sales and marketing responsibility for Bioscience Products, Global Accounts and the International Olympic Committee, as well as international management assignments based in Japan and Latin America. Bud has visited and worked in more than 65 countries and lived and worked in 3 countries.
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3 Responses to Correcting CO2 perceptions and myths about CO2 forcing

  1. Sunface says:

    Thanks Bud. fantastic article.
    As the megalomaniacs said in the Club of Rome. It their fault, all their fault. They caused it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Correcting CO2 perceptions and myths about CO2 forcing - Climate-

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