Volcanos and CO2 Emissions – Truth or Hoax?

Fact Check:

When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted in March 2010, I received this mass email:

VOLCANOES – MAKING LIBERALS LOOK STUPID…NATURALLY! *FOOD FOR THOUGHT ….. this was sent to me by a friend, thought I would pass it along.  *

*Are you sitting down? *Okay, here’s the bombshell. The current volcanic eruption going on in Iceland, since it first started spewing volcanic ash a week ago, has, to this point, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet.  Not only that, this single act of God has added emissions to the earth estimated to be 42 times more than can be corrected by the extreme human regulations proposed for annual reductions.

I know, I know…. (have a group hug)…it’s very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up til midnight to finish your kid’s “The Green Revolution” science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, going on vacation to a city park instead of Yosemite, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with $10 light bulbs …well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just the past week. The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in the past week has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.  And, those hundreds of thousands of American jobs you helped move to Asia with expensive emissions demands on businesses… you know, the ones that are creating even more emissions than when they were creating American jobs, well that must seem really worthwhile now. I’m so sorry. And I do wish that there was some kind of a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western U.S.A. will start in about two months and those fires will negate your efforts to reduce carbon emissions in our world for the next two years.

So, grab a Coke, give the world a hug, and have a nice day!


So what is really going on?

According to FactCheck:

It’s true that erupting volcanoes do emit some carbon dioxide, one of the “greenhouse gases” that contributes to global climate change. But according to USGS, human activities release at least a hundred times more CO2 every year than all the world’s volcanoes combined. Published estimates of the gas emissions from all volcanoes in the world range from 123 million to 378 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Humans haven’t produced that little since the 19th century.

The problem is that when a denier tells you the content of the email above at a cocktail party, and you don’t just happen to be a climatologist who specializes in the study of the atmosphere, you probably don’t have the facts at your fingertips and can’t successfully argue against this outrageous, completely made-up, claim.

Fact check goes on documenting that the standstill of European air travel during that time, due to ash in the atmosphere, provided a significant offset of the CO2 emissions by the volcano:

Carbon dioxide isn’t a major output of volcanic eruptions. In the case of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which began erupting in March 2010 and entered an explosive phase in April 2010, one study found that less than 15 percent of the gas given off in the pre-explosive phase was CO2 – the majority was water vapor. For some other volcanoes, the proportion of CO2 is even lower.

Still, that accounted for 150,000 to 300,000 tons of CO2 per day at the height of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, according to wire reports. But the European Union’s air travel, which was shut down for days during the eruption, accounts for 3 percent of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, which according to the European Environment Agency was about 4,089 billion tons in 2008. That means air travel in Europe gives off about 340,000 tons of CO2 per day. The shutdown of air travel in much of Europe during the first week of the explosive eruption would have offset, if not greatly outpaced, the CO2 Eyjafjallajokull produced during that time.

The amount of misinformation spewed on the American public, driven by purposeful and targeted campaigns to dumb us down, is alarming.

Insinuating, after sprewing this volcano of garbage, that Al Gore somehow made up this “hoax” to get rich, is unforgivable. I would like to get a chance to compare the life-work of the writer of that email, who in cowardice wrote anonymously, to that of Al Gore. Then let’s have this argument again.

Now for the most important question: Who can pronounce Eyjafjallajokull?

2 thoughts on “Volcanos and CO2 Emissions – Truth or Hoax?

  1. Manhu

    Considering the fact that water vapour is the greatest ‘green house gas’, ( about 95% of total global effect), then a volcanic eruption certainly would have a significant effect.

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