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This is a reference page for the CO2 Bubble KML.
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The CO2 Bubble...

This KML attempts to give a sense of scale to our CO2 emissions. It illustrates the total volume of CO2 emitted by man since the Industrial Revolution, as well as emission growth through the last two centuries. The KML also   shows, next to the Eiffel Tower, an enormous pyramid of coal corresponding to the total amount burned by mankind throughout history.

Data Sources:
Please see the full script used in the KML below, with references.

Thanks to 3dHH for the low-polygon Eiffel Tower model from the Google Sketchup 3D Warehouse used in this KML.

Open Google Earth file

About the calculations

The CO2 spheres, coal pyramids and big atmosphere sphere in this KML are shown at the correct size (sea level pressure is used for the gas spheres). The calculations can be found below.

Emissions in this KML are mentioned either in tons of carbon, tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), or tons of coal equivalent.
They compare as follows: 1 ton of carbon = 3.67 tons of CO2 (44/12) = 1.74 tons of coal (44/12 / 2.107).
( )

To estimate the size of a pyramid of coal equivalent to our total historic emissions:
530,000,000,000 tons of carbon * 44g CO2 / 12g C / 2.107 g CO2 / g coal = 922,322,417,339 tons of coal.

... / 0.833 ton/m3 (density of bituminous coal) / 109 m3/km3 = 1,107 square kilometers of coal.
( )

... which makes a pyramid with a height 2/3 of it's side (the ratio of the Khafre pyramid of Giza) the size:
(3 * 1107 * 3/2)(1/3) = 17.1 kilometer side and 17.1*2/3 = 11.4 kilometer high.

(this includes emissions from all sources, not just coal - a pyramid of all the coal we have burned would be 7.6 km high)

CO2 Spheres:
Creating a sphere of CO2 the size of our 2008 emissions:
8,700,000,000 tons of carbon * 44g CO2/12g C / 1.977 kg/m3 (density of CO2 at 1 atm) = 16,136 square kilometers.
... which makes a sphere (3/4 / π * 4400)(1/3) * 2 = 31.4 kilometers across.

This is our atmosphere, all 5148 trillion tons of it, as if curled up
into a single sphere at sea level pressure.

A small part of the atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide.
CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps infrared radiation
and heats the planet.

CO2 acting as a greenhouse gas has been known since 1859.

Currently 387 parts per million of the atmosphere is made up of
CO2, but this was not always the case...

Since the Industrial Revolution we have been burning coal and
other fossil fuels, releasing more and more CO2.

In the beginning we were burning about 5.2 million tons of coal
per year globally, here shown as a pyramid next to
the Eiffel Tower.

By the 1900's the amount had grown to 929 million tons,
a pyramid 1120 meters high.

...and by 2008 into a pyramid 2.9 kilometers high (15 billion tons).

In reality coal makes up roughly one third of our historic emissions,
oil and gas another third, and deforestation and land-use change
the final third - but in this display all emissions are shown as coal.

The total amount of CO2 released by man since the
Industrial Revolution corresponds to an enormous pyramid
of coal 11 kilometers high (higher than Mt. Everest).

Half a trillion tons of fossil carbon, carved out of the ground
and released into the atmosphere...

If we ever release the next 500 billion tons,
we will have lost the chance to avoid irreversible climate change.
...we are currently projected to release the trillionth ton of carbon
in March 2045.

Back again to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution...

The 5.2 million tons of coal burned in 1750 released 11 million tons
of CO2 into the atmosphere
- here shown as a sphere of the gas at sea level pressure.

( 2.107 kg CO2 / kg coal burned: )

Emissions rose slowly at first, reaching 29 million tons of CO2
per year by 1800, making only a small difference to the
concentration of the gas in the atmosphere.

In 1824 the greenhouse effect of certain gases in the atmosphere
was first recognized.
(59 million tons of CO2 were emitted in 1824)

(Joseph Fourier)

In 1859 CO2 was first recognized as a greenhouse gas - the
first step towards understanding the Global Warming of today.
(304 million tons of CO2 were emitted in 1859)

(John Tyndall)

In 1896 the first estimates for Global Warming due to the buildup
of fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere were calculated.
(1.54 billion tons of CO2 were emitted in 1896)

(Svante Arrhenius)

Today we know that roughly half of the manmade CO2 emissions
stay in the atmosphere, the rest is absorbed by the worlds forests
and oceans, in turn causing ocean acidification and coral death.

From 1958 onwards we have been able to measure exactly how
fast CO2 is building up in the atmosphere.
(8.54 billion tons of CO2 were emitted in 1958)

Atmospheric CO2 was at roughly 315 ppm when measurements began.

In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
was formed, and we passed 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere,
the level today recognized as safe in the long term.

In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol is established, and industrialized
countries commit to reducing emissions.
(24.32 billion tons of CO2 were emitted in 1997)

In 2008 we emitted 32 billion tons of CO2, and levels in the
atmosphere reached 385 ppm, with temperatures rising
0.2 degrees Celsius per decade.

Our emissions are rising higher every year, and also rising
faster and faster. In the 1990's atmospheric CO2 was increasing
by 1.5 ppm/year, today by 2 ppm/year.

Today manmade emissions have added an extra 37% to the
original CO2 in the atmosphere, heating the planet (so far)
by an additional 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Arctic summer sea ice has melted faster than predicted by any
climate models, loosing 2.6 million square kilometers of ice by
2007 (shrinking to 40% below long-term average).

It is probably already too late to avoid an ice-free arctic in the
summer, but by decreasing emissions now we can still avoid
many of the worst effects of climate change.

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