### The myth that Mars has more CO2 than Earth

One would hope that a patently false claim would just die rather than being continuously resurrected. Such is the case with the "Mars has more CO

If Mars and Earth had the same size atmosphere, then a direct comparison between percentages would be valid. They don't. Measurements show that the Martian atmosphere has a mass of 2.5 x 10

Given the following

1 mole CO

Mars:

Total atmosphere mass: 2.5 x 10

Mean molecular mass of atmosphere: 43.34 g/mole

% volume CO

The total mass of CO

95.32% volume x (44.0095/43.34) = 96.79% by mass CO

96.79% mass x 2.5 x 10

The equivalent calculation for Earth is

Earth:

Total atmosphere mass: 5.1 x 10

Mean molecular mass of atmosphere: 28.97 g/mole

% volume CO

0.04% volume x (44.0095/28.97) = 0.0608% mass CO

0.0608% mass x 5.1 x 10

Last time I checked, 3.101 x 10

Now I can hear someone saying "Wait a second. Earth is larger than Mars." Ok. We can normalize the amount by dividing it by the surface area of the respective planet. Given

Martian equatorial radius = 3396.2 km

Earth equatorial radius = 6378.1 km

Surface area of a sphere = 4πr

the surface area of Mars is 144,942,710.74 km

Mars: 164,409,785.62 kg CO

Earth: 606,609,565.04 kg CO

Which means Earth has 3.69x more CO

So if Earth has 3.69x more CO

_{2}than Earth and is colder than Earth so CO_{2}can't be causing global warming" claim. This one is usually based on the fact that Mars has an atmosphere that is 95.32% CO_{2}by volume whereas Earth's atmosphere is only 0.04% CO_{2}. Unfortunately, all that claim reveals is that whoever is making it didn't get very far in a science class.If Mars and Earth had the same size atmosphere, then a direct comparison between percentages would be valid. They don't. Measurements show that the Martian atmosphere has a mass of 2.5 x 10

^{16}kg whereas Earth's atmosphere has a mass of 5.1 x 10^{18}kg. That's right—Earth's atmosphere is 204x more massive than the Martian atmosphere. So we must account for that difference in size before comparing the amount of gas in the atmosphere. The way to do this is simple. Convert percentage volume to percentage mass using moles, then multiply the percentage mass by the total mass of the atmosphere. For those who have forgotten what a mole is, you can partially resurrect those long buried nightmares of general chemistry here.Given the following

1 mole CO

_{2}= 44.0095 g/moleMars:

Total atmosphere mass: 2.5 x 10

^{16}kgMean molecular mass of atmosphere: 43.34 g/mole

% volume CO

_{2}: 95.32%The total mass of CO

_{2}in the Martian atmosphere is95.32% volume x (44.0095/43.34) = 96.79% by mass CO

_{2}96.79% mass x 2.5 x 10

^{16}kg = 2.383 x 10^{16}kg CO_{2}The equivalent calculation for Earth is

Earth:

Total atmosphere mass: 5.1 x 10

^{18}kgMean molecular mass of atmosphere: 28.97 g/mole

% volume CO

_{2}: 0.04%0.04% volume x (44.0095/28.97) = 0.0608% mass CO

_{2}0.0608% mass x 5.1 x 10

^{18}kg = 3.101 x 10^{17}kg CO_{2}Last time I checked, 3.101 x 10

^{17}kg is larger than 2.383 x 10^{16}kg by over 13x.Now I can hear someone saying "Wait a second. Earth is larger than Mars." Ok. We can normalize the amount by dividing it by the surface area of the respective planet. Given

Martian equatorial radius = 3396.2 km

Earth equatorial radius = 6378.1 km

Surface area of a sphere = 4πr

^{2},the surface area of Mars is 144,942,710.74 km

^{2}and the surface area of Earth is 511,201,962.3 km^{2}. Dividing the amount of CO_{2}by the surface area gives usMars: 164,409,785.62 kg CO

_{2}per km^{2}Earth: 606,609,565.04 kg CO

_{2}per km^{2}Which means Earth has 3.69x more CO

_{2}than Mars, even after accounting for the different sizes of the planets. No matter how you want to look at it, the claim that Mars has more CO_{2}than Earth should be just plain dead.So if Earth has 3.69x more CO

_{2}per unit area than Mars, why is CO_{2}such a large part of the Martian atmosphere and such a small portion of Earth's atmosphere? The answer is nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. Those gases comprise >99.5% of Earth's atmosphere, virtually none of Mars'. Strip away the nitrogen, oxygen, and argon from Earth's atmosphere and of the gases that would be left, CO_{2}would make up 99% of the atmosphere by volume, an even higher percentage than on Mars.
0.0608% mass x 5.1 x 10^18 kg = 3.101 x 10^15 kg CO2

ReplyDeleteLast time I checked, 3.101 x 10^15 kg is smaller than 2.383 x 10^16 kg about 8x.

10^17 is correct. 10^15 is not.

DeleteDisagreed:

Delete10^15 is correct. 10^17 is not.

Do I need to point out 0.0608%=0.000608?

The whole post is based on a simple arithmetic mistake. What's most funny, is its unintended support for the 'patently false claim'.

savage

DeleteObviously, more than one Anonymous commented here.

DeleteCounterarguments?

ReplyDeleteYes Anonymous is correct. The error the author made is when multiplying by 0.06%. Percent meant per hundred ie you have to divide 0.06 by a hundred which he failed to do. You can easily check this look at the calculation for Mars where he did divide by 100. Mars has about 10 * the CO2 of Earth

ReplyDelete