If CO2 Emissions Are Not Rising, Why Is Atmospheric CO2 Rising At “Unprecedented” Rates?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have not increased for two years running. They say the global economy has grown during this period and that it shows that economic growth and CO2 emissions have been decoupled. Further they are attributing this condition as likely due to renewable energy growth, and China having curbed its use of coal to improve the environment. They note that China has promised to stop increasing emission in 2030 but the IEA thinks we may be seeing the stoppage now.   Fat Chance.

You might think then that atmospheric CO2 must have flat-lined too. If you think that you are wrong.   Climatecentral.org posted “Unprecedented Spike in CO2 levels in 2015” and from that posting we get this:

” The annual growth rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose more in 2015 than scientists have ever seen in a single year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

It was the fourth year in a row that carbon dioxide concentrations grew by more than 2 parts per million, with an annual growth rate of 3.05 parts per million in 2015. ­The spike comes in the same year that Earth reached an ominous global warming milestone — scientists last year measured the highest atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide ever recorded.”

But wait, but wait. If the emissions are not increasing how can the atmospheric CO2 be increasing at an “unprecedented rate” or even growing at all.

Here is NOAA’s chart of atmospheric CO2:

CO2Trend_MaunaLoaReading_NOAA_700_543_s_c1_c_cNOAA appears to be attributing the increase to the recent El Nino that they say:

“………….what will likely be the most extreme El Niño ever recorded, as ecosystems respond to the changes in temperature and precipitation it has caused.

However Michael Mann says:

“Carbon dioxide concentrations are a lagging indicator, and they don’t accurately reflect recent trends in the more important variable — our actual carbon emissions.”

I think that NOAA is generally right but perhaps partly for the wrong reasons. The Carbon Cycle is the focus here. The following chart gives you some idea of the enormity of carbon moving from land to ocean to atmosphere to and vice versa:


Estimating the amount of human emissions is much likely to be more accurate than the amount of natural emissions. We know reasonably accurately the amount of fossil fuels sold and consumed. Shown at the left of the chart is the fossil fuel contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere. That number when the chart in 2007 was made is 6 and that means 6 billion tonnes of carbon annually.

That number is swamped by the size of the other numbers. And these numbers are SWAGS (aka scientific wild ass guesses).   I don’t mean to say that I could do better than that person who provides those numbers. But no matter how trained, in say plant respiration, a person is, the uncertainly has to be many times greater than the total of the human emissions.

The finding that there has been no increase in human emissions while at the same time atmospheric CO2 levels are rising, seems to prove the theory that temperature rises first and CO2 emissions rise as a result of the temperature rise. In the next posting we will look at the work done by Dr Murry Salby.



One response to “If CO2 Emissions Are Not Rising, Why Is Atmospheric CO2 Rising At “Unprecedented” Rates?

  1. Pingback: Is Global Temperature Driving The Rise In Atmospheric CO2? | Climate Change Sanity

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