CO2: Global Carbon Dioxide Levels

Linked to Human Activity

What do we know for sure?  We know for a fact that CO2 levels are rising and that human activity is the cause.

How do we know this?  A simple calculation. Let’s start with the year 1750, generally accepted as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when the standard measure for CO2 levels was 278ppm. We’ll begin then, add the known level of human-generated CO2 for that year, then subtract 2.84% of the excess CO2 – because that’s how fast nature tries to restore the balance. If we do this for 255 years, up to 2005, we get the pink line in the graph below. It fits the black line – the actual CO2 level – like a glove.


How accurate is this fit? Considering the difficulties of gathering data from centuries past, amazingly close. We know, for example, that up until 1950, deforestation was putting about as much CO2 into the atmosphere as were burning fossils, but it’s not easy to know how many trees were chopped down in, say, 1850, and how much CO2 this put into the air. In spite of imperfect data, the fact that a simple calculation predicts the extraordinary shape of actual CO2 so well is clear evidence this can not be a coincidental convergence. Human CO2 emissions must have caused the upsurge is atmospheric CO2.

So what?  The link between human activity and rising CO2 levels is the first step. The next one is between CO2 and global warming. That was predicted over 100 years ago, but the evidence has become convincing only very recently. ZFacts will be adding pages about this during February, 2006.


Fossil Fuel data are from the U.S. DOE, including an estimate that fossil fuel emissions will increase at 1.2% per year until 2030. We assume this rate to 2050. However, the average rate for the last 5 years was about 1.9%, so this may be optimistic. Cement manufacture also releases CO2 from the rocks it processes, so that source is tracked separately.

More electric power plants run on coal than oil, natural gas or hydro-power, and burning coal produces CO2, one of the gases that cause global warming. New and more expensive technology makes it possible to build coal-burning power plants that could be adapted to “sink” the CO2 underground to keep it out of the atmosphere. Builders of new power plants are divided on using the new technology or just polishing up the old for less money. Proponents of both are pushing for government blessing.more

Amazing “Synfuel”.pdf Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other petroleum products can be made from coal. The conversion process removes greenhouse gases, sulfur, mercury and arsenic; a synfuel plant can generate electricity, make synthetic natural gas and even hydrogen. Ordinary engines can use it. Montana has 120 billion tons of coal which would make the equivalent of one quarter of the oil under the Middle East. Do we need Montana?

Mining Under the Radar.pdf  A proposed Canadian mine would endanger Glacier and Waterton Parks, Flathead Lake and that is just a start.

Synthetic Fuel.pdf  Dreams of reinventing both small town Montana and the fossil fuel industry.