The Feb. 18 letter, “Man-made climate change. Do the Math,” from Rodger Anderson appears to contain a serious math error. Mr. Anderson states that, as of 2007, National Geographic stated that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were increasing at the rate of two parts per million (ppm) annually, and that “calculates at over 400 billion metric tons/year.” Mr. Anderson then goes on to say that “National Geographic can only account for eight billion metric tons/year added to the atmosphere by humans.” Based on a math error, he then comes to the incorrect conclusion that “human activity must not be the cause for the rise in this greenhouse gas.”
I redid the math. The National Center for Atmospheric Research gives the mean mass of the atmosphere as 5.148 x 10^18 kg, which is 5.148 x 10^15 metric tons. Two ppm of this number is 1.03 x 10^10 metric tons, or just over 10 billion metric tons.
So, using the 2007 data from National Geographic, namely that humans contribute 8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, humans are indeed responsible for the great majority of the annual increase of 10 billion metric tons of this greenhouse gas, and hence global warming.
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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion