Does one major volcanic eruption generate more carbon dioxide (CO2) than humans can ever produce in their entire history?
There’s a raging and ongoing argument circulating all over the Internet that one volcano eruption spews more carbon dioxide (CO2) than humans can ever produce in their entire history. The unproven claim started this week when volcano in Mt. Merapi, Indonesia erupted yesterday. While this may sound good to climate change deniers, unfortunately it is a whopper. The truth is, the science just doesn’t back it up. Humans are now producing more CO2 than all the volcanoes in the world combined.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than one percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere, human activities emit 60 or more times the amount of carbon dioxide released by volcanoes each year. Large, violent eruptions may match the rate of human emissions for the few hours that they last, but they are too rare and fleeting to rival humanity’s annual emissions. In fact, several individual U.S. states emit more carbon dioxide in a year than all the volcanoes on the planet combined do.
Another indication that human emissions dwarf those of volcanoes is the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels, as measured by sampling stations around the world set up by the federally funded Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, have gone up consistently year after year regardless of whether or not there have been major volcanic eruptions in specific years.
“If it were true that individual volcanic eruptions dominated human emissions and were causing the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations, then these carbon dioxide records would be full of spikes—one for each eruption,” says Coby Beck, a journalist writing for online environmental news portal Grist.org. “Instead, such records show a smooth and regular trend.”
Below is a video of volcano eruption from Mt. Merapi, Indonesia.s
Mt Merapi , Indonesia, this morning pic.twitter.com/g1qODSjm1j
— badluck jones (@badluck_jones) March 3, 2020