Volcanos and CO2 Emissions – Truth or Hoax? – Take Two

In December of 2012, right after the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted, I published a post here commenting about people posting nonsense about volcanos and anthropogenic global warming. At the time I said:

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

This seems to be a pattern on Facebook, as I came across this picture in my feed on January 2. I have redacted the name of the poster and recipient, since those are not relevant to my argument.

Mt. Etna on Facebook

This poster obviously argued that “one minor eruption on Dec 3, 2015, pumped 10,000 times as much CO2 into the air as all of mankind has ever produced. He then insulted 97% of all climate scientists in the world by telling them to “get over it” and calling them “panic merchants.”

When I didn’t know what volcano he was talking about, I asked for more details. When the poster never responded, I did a 15 second Google search and realized he must have talked about the Mt. Etna eruption on December 3rd. There is plenty of documentation about that eruption, and another 30 seconds later I had the facts I needed.

Gas studies at volcanoes worldwide have helped volcanologists tally up a global volcanic CO2 budget in the same way that nations around the globe have cooperated to determine how much CO2 is released by human activity through the burning of fossil fuels. Our studies show that globally, volcanoes on land and under the sea release a total of about 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

— The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory explained how much CO2 is generated by volcanoes in a 2007 article

200 million tons of CO2 seems like an extraordinary large amount. However, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found that the estimated amount of CO2 generated annually by human activity is 135 times higher.

In addition, volcanos also spew out sulfur dioxide, which can lead to volcanic air pollution. Sulfur dioxide gas reacts chemically with sunlight, oxygen, dust particles, and water to form volcanic smog known as vog. This actually offsets some of the CO2 greenhouse effect by doing the opposite: Inducing cooling by injection of pollution into the atmosphere. So volcanos are often actually balanced out.

It is easy to post a picture like the above in a Facebook feed and let it trickle down to the uneducated and uncritical masses in order to advance an agenda. If that agenda is well-funded by powerful lobbies like the petroleum industry, it can make a significant difference in public opinion. It looks legit, doesn’t it?

Usually 30 seconds of googling provides the facts, though.

9 thoughts on “Volcanos and CO2 Emissions – Truth or Hoax? – Take Two

  1. This is important stuff you are doing. I’m sure a lot of people read your blog but not many leave a Comment. I don’t know if you want that, as you rarely respond to any comment made. It would increase your readership response enormously.
    When I comment, it’s like speaking into the wind. And nobody there.

    I sometimes H/T your excellent posts to Immoral Minority which has huge readership. Hope you don’t mind.

    1. Hi Barbara – oh, oh, oh, I stand admonished. I know fully well that responses to comments establish relationships and readership. I can assure you I read all comments usually within hours and I appreciate them, too. You’ re not speaking to the wind, and I apologize. ’nuff said!

      Regarding Immoral Minority, I didn’t know and I am not sure I have ever been there – will go check it out now.

      Thanks about the kudos on important stuff. I am strongly in favor of education, intellectual dialog and exposing of misinformation. Thanks for your help!

  2. Ray cullen

    Geez Norbert,
    there you go again—spoiling a “good story” with those bothersome FACTS–!!!

    Yes—climate change (formerly “global warming”—-apparently rebranded some years back, by conservatives to sound less “threatening”–!!!) deniers are often fed ROT by vested interests–!! Reminds one of the (pseudo)”science” promulgated by the Tobacco Lobby in THEIR self-interested endeavors to place profits ahead of peoples’ health—!!!
    Climate deniers are then zealous (one might even suggest “evangelical”–!!) in their efforts to “enlighten” the rest of us—-& (as they see it) “saving” us from our ignorant folly of subscribing to the view agreed upon by (as you say) 97% of climate scientists—!!!

    The actions of the Tobacco Lobby were reprehensible & devoid of morality. However, at least people could individually opt to avoid the disastrous effects upon their health wrought by tobacco—by quitting.
    Climate deniers (& the vested interests who “feed” them) by comparison, are actually WORSE–!!
    Their nonsense–if believed & “acted upon” (that is—societal NON-action to mitigate the predicted WORST of climate change impacts)—would result in the irreversible destruction of planet earth–!!!
    None of us—nor our grandchildren//the generations to come–would escape unscathed from such a scenario–!!
    We can hardly “opt out” of this tiny blue “dot” in space which is the shared home to us all—!!!

    Once again, my lack of computer literacy means I cannot link to same—however, a google search under terms akin to—“Arnold Schwarzennegger doesn’t give a damn what you think about climate change”—will get readers to a really BRILLIANT “argument”–!!
    Basically, what’s being said is that argument about climate change can be a “red herring” & a time-waster when immediate action is required—NOW–!!

    The logic seems unassailable here–!!
    Even IF climate change were NOT real—because of the OTHER deliterious effects of pollution around the world—because of the way we have, & continue to SOIL OUR “NEST”, we MUST act—NOW–!!! It’s really worth a read–!!


    1. Thanks, Ray! Yes, let’s just say climate change is NOT REAL for a second. We’re all delusional. But it’s causing us to make our engines burn clean. That clears up our cities, and our children will breathe healthy air, and the trees don’t die. If we keep some of the oil in the ground, it might last longer for those things we don’t have replacements for. There are many products that require petroleum. If we burn it, we will use it all up, eventually. The question is not if, but when. It might be only 50 years. It might be 500. Either way, our descendants would thank us for making it last a bit longer. All those things are good. And the only cost? Profit margins for Shell, BP, and Exxon Mobile. Well, Gee!

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