Mt. Etna vs Humans

Yes, I'm still around. I've just been fairly busy the past few months. The long-debunked myth that Mt. Etna emits more carbon dioxide in one little eruption than human activities have for our entire history as a species has recently reappeared on my social media feed, courtesy of a right-wing cousin of mine.

 I just thought I'd do a quick comparison showing just how wrong that myth is. Using data from tables 2 and 3 in Burton, Sawyer, and Granieri (2013) for volcanic emissions and Boden, Marland, and Andres (2017) for human-related carbon dioxide emissions, I get the following comparison between an entire year's worth of Mt. Etna CO2 emissions and just one year's worth of human-caused CO2 emissions.

Mt. Etna produces an average of 7.22 million metric tons of CO2 per year. That's TOTAL per year, not just "one little burp." In contrast, humans caused 36.14 BILLION metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2014 alone. Mt. Etna emissions aren't even a rounding error compared to human-caused emissions for just one year. Ah, but that meme specifically compared Mt. Etna emissions from "one little burp" to human-caused emissions for our entire history. Now we don't have data for our entire history as a species, but we do have data since 1751, thanks to Boden, Marland, and Andres.

Adding the annual emissions up since 1751, we get the following:

As before, Mt. Etna produces an average of 7.22 million metric tons of CO2 per year (not per burp). In contrast, anthropogenic CO2 emissions since 1751 total 1.47 quadrillion metric tons of CO2. That's 204,208,172 times greater than Mt. Etna's YEARLY output (again, not per burp).

 As one of my favorite cable shows would say, that myth is busted.


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