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In the absence of anthropogenic activities, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere would be fairly static. Animals exhale carbon dioxide, but vegetation converts this back into edible products that are then consumed by those animals. Similarly, rotting vegetation gives off carbon dioxide, but the vegetation is soon replaced by new vegetation that requires the same amount of carbon. The natural cycle contributes no net increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. So, CO2 concentrations had remained around 260-280 parts per million (ppm) until the time of the Industrial revolution, when the level of CO2 began to rise in line with increasing use of fossil fuels.

The increase from 260-280 ppm to the present 390 ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide is entirely due to human activities.

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But that does not answer the question. Humans produce about 6% of all CO2 emissions and 0.28% of all green house gas emissions now. At no point in history has CO2 ever been known to be 'fairly' static. It has always followed temperatures by about 800 years.

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12y ago
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Andrew Morton

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9mo ago
Don't forget the oceans are a big player in CO2 absorption and releasing of CO2. And CO2 has been as high as 6,000 ppm when the land was lush and dinosaurs walked the earth.
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1w ago

Around 75-80% of CO2 emissions come from human activities, primarily from burning fossil fuels for energy production, transportation, and industrial processes. These emissions significantly contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to climate change.

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12y ago

Carbon dioxide (CO2) from the sea, vegetation and volcanoes are all part of the natural carbon cycle, which moves CO2 in and out of the atmosphere. Man-made emissions are largely from burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). This carbon has been stored away underground for millions of years and is not removed from the atmosphere by the carbon cycle.

In comparison to just volcanoes, the emission of carbon dioxide by human activity compared to volcanoes has us producing about 130 times more than volcanoes. Scientists calculated that volcanoes produce about 130-230 million tonnes of CO2 each year (Gerlach, 1999, 1991) compared to 27 billion tonnes produced by human activity (Marland, et al., 2006).

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13y ago

In 1850 the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 278 ppm (parts per million), which is 0.0278% according to some sources.

From 1850 onwards the Industrial Revolution began. Factories sprang up and we started burning wood and coal to drive industry. When we discovered oil, we burned it to power transport and generate electricity. We have been doing this ever since.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now (March 2011) 392 ppm, which is an increase of 41% increase, entirely caused by anthropogenic or human activity.

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Carbon Dioxide has NEVER stayed "still" at anytime in the history of the planet. Percentages have varied in the past 2000 years from 0.019% to as high as 0.04% (Beck 2008 and Vostok record) The fact is that CO2 has been shown to be rising steadily for over 10,000 years. CO2 has ALWAYS followed the 100K year solar cycles and is still doing so today.

It is interesting to note that the science of 1850 does not agree with the idea that CO2 was at 278 ppm. Over 90,000 measurements of the day, done with methods that we still use, show that CO2 ran over 400 ppm in the 1800's and reached highs of 440 ppm. Some of the creators of these measurements even won Noble prizes for their work. Today, alarmists ignore 100% of their measurements, in favor of proxies which show lower historical numbers.

Man's contributions to the total CO2 output is small. In terms of percentages we produce about 5.25% of all annually generated CO2. We produce about 0.28% of all greenhouse gas annually. Oceans produce over 90 to 100 Btonnes of CO2 annually. The difference though, is that some of man's contributions are not from sources that would otherwise produce CO2. Whether the planet is able to absorb this portion man introduces is what the real question with global warming really is. If man's portion is able to be absorbed by the planet, no warm, no foul. If it is not able to be absorbed, we are making a big problem for future generations.

Forests, when left natural and allowed to decay can produce substantially more CO2 than man does. Burning of wood produces the same CO2 as a tree rotting, yet becomes part of man's 5.25% contribution. You will find that percentage values range from as little as 2% to as high as 5.25% because of the incomplete science we still have on the subject. The oceans possible output variance is larger than our total involvement. Despite the consensus of political groups, we still have a great deal to learn before science can become as certain as politicians. Yes, the planet has seen a change in our atmosphere that could be as high as 0.007%. The issue is the small amount of CO2 in our atmosphere.

It should be noted that the past 10,000 years showed almost a 100% increase in CO2 levels BEFORE man started to burn fossil fuels. NONE of that can be considered man induced. No respectable science group claims that the entire known increase in CO2 levels is possibly caused by man. They DO state that man is a contributor. It is the level of involvement that is the question.

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12y ago

About 96.2% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from nature (750 gigatons a year) compared with 3.8% (29 gigatons) from human activity. The amount from nature is also removed by nature (the carbon cycle), whereas most of the carbon dioxide from human activity remains in the atmosphere, gradually building up.

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10y ago

Man-made carbon dioxide is a variable number depending on the inclusion of land use policy, the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), livestock emissions, and construction activity (such as deforestation). However, it is generally accepted that pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels were 278 ppm, while this year the 400 ppm measure was broken, amounting to a 44% increase over the last 200 years, while carbon dioxide levels did not vary more than 7 ppm during the 800 years between 1000 and 1800 CE.

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11y ago

Almost forty percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide comes from human activities.

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12y ago

Humans produce about 6% of all CO2 emissions and just under 0.3% of all green house gas emissions in total.

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11y ago

0.3%

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Q: What percentage of CO2 emissions come from human activity?
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