By Steven Goddard
Yesterday WUWT reported on the inaccurate #1 environmental story at Guardian.
The Guardian article originally read :
The volcanic eruption has released carbon dioxide, but the amount is dwarfed by
the savings. Based on readings taken by scientists during the first phase of
Eyjafjallajokull activity last month, the website Information is Beautiful
calculated the volcano has emitted about 15,000 tonnes of CO2 each day.
After their article was written, more accurate information spread across the web – The Guardian numbers were off by more than an order of magnitude :
Experts said on Monday that the volcano in Iceland is emitting 150,000 to 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, a figure comparable to emissions released from a small industrial nation.
The Guardian responded by updating their article with better numbers, but failed to update their conclusions:
So what is wrong with their correction? Lots of things.
- Their source of information now claims that the numbers are 206,465 tons saved vs. 150,000 tons emitted by the volcano. Those two numbers are well within the margin of error of the volcano estimates, and are the very low end of what scientists are claiming. If we use the average scientific estimate of 225,000 – the volcano was actually producing more CO2 per day than the savings from grounded aircraft. Yet the Guardian story still claims that emissions are dwarfed by the savings.
- The Guardian story claims that there have been 2.8 million tons of savings, and the math doesn’t work out. At the time the story was written there had been six days of grounded flights. 206,465 tons/day X 6 days = 1.2 million tons, not 2.8 million tons.
- The Guardian failed to research the actual volcano estimates, and again published the very low end numbers from an apparently unreliable source.
- They failed to consider that the eruption has been going on for more than a month, while the flight ban has lasted only six days. Total volcano emissions actually dwarf the savings from the aircraft.
- They failed to consider Anthony’s point that people stranded by grounded aircraft seek other means of transportation, including cars, trains and battleships, etc. The BBC estimated that these other modes of transport generate as much CO2 as the planes would have.
- They failed to consider that the airlines will eventually run extra flights in order to catch up.
The evidence indicates that the net balance from the volcano is a large increase in CO2 emissions. The Guardian article was just Plane Stupid.
Furthermore, we know that plants, soil and the oceans generate 30 times as much CO2 as all fossil fuel burning combined. That is 200,000,000,000 tons of CO2 per year from natural sources, compared with The Guardian’s inaccurate claim of 2,800,000 tons in savings from aircraft grounded. In other words, even their exaggerated claimed savings are less than 0.0014% of all natural emissions of CO2.