Written by on November 24, 2022

A twitter post claiming that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) than human activities is false.

“Global warming is not real and just volcanoes emit 100x more CO2 than all human activity. Even if anthropogenic global warming was real, China and India don’t care. Not worth destroying our country over,” states the claim.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the amount of carbon dioxide released by volcanoes yearly is 60 or more times lower than the amount released by human activities. However, there are instances where the volcanoes can match the rate of human emissions, whenever there are large, violent eruptions, though they are too rare to rival humanity annual emissions. For instance, in the USA, in a year, there are states that emit more CO2 than a combination of all the planet’s volcanoes. 

 In 2015, human activities more specifically burning of coal and other fossil fuels as well as cement production, deforestation and other landscape changes emitted approximately 40 billion metric tons of CO2. More than 2,000 billion metric tons of CO2 have been emitted into the atmosphere by human activities since the start of the Industrial Revolution. This is according to the Global Carbon Project.

Source: NOAA

According to the U.S Geological Survey, published scientific estimates of the global CO2 emissions for all on land and submarine volcanoes “lie in a range from 130 million tonnes to 440 million tonnes per year.”

This is a fraction of the CO2 produced by human activity. In 2021, the global CO2 emissions from energy combustion and industrial processes alone reached a record high of 36.3 billion tonnes (or gigatons, GT), according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use results in the emission into the atmosphere of approximately 34 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year worldwide, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) . The fossil fuels emissions numbers are about 100 times bigger than even the maximum estimated volcanic CO2 fluxes.

Large eruptions can indeed emit significant amounts of CO2, but these events are rare and are still small when compared with human emissions.

We looked into this claim stating that volcanoes produce more CO2 than human activities and found it to be false.

This fact-check was produced by Sky 106.1 FM with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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