Guardian Continues To Spread Misinformation About Eyjafjallajokull

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:

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 150,000 tonnes of CO2 each day. Worldwide, the US Geological Survey says volcanoes produce about 200m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
• This article was changed on 21 April. It originally said the volcano has emitted about 15,000 tonnes of CO2 each day. Information is Beautiful has since corrected this figure to 150,000; we have updated our article to reflect this.

So what is wrong with their correction?  Lots of things.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Guardian failed to research the actual volcano estimates, and again published the very low end numbers from an apparently unreliable source.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Numbers  from Woods Hole Institute


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Bill in Vigo

Don’t ya just love good solid mathematics!
Bill Derryberry

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

Excellent rebuttal. So simple, so effective, so beyond the grasp of a Guardian journalist.


Don’t these newspapers have Ombudsmen to look into complaints about misleading data? If they did they should be contacted and asked to investigate, if they are found in error the Ombudsman enforces the paper to correct the information in a conspicuous retraction.

Doug in Seattle

Specious sources would, in my opinion, include Woods Hole Institute.

Doug in Seattle (20:32:34) :
One thing for sure, Woods Hole is not going to intentionally exaggerate natural CO2 emissions.


“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.”
I calculate that for 5.5 days of grounded flights aircraft related emissions would be reduced by between 2 and 2.9m tonnes for CO2 (depending on what figures are used). I even think these figures are optimistic. Given 29,000 flights/day and average sector length of 2hrs and an average consumption of 4 tonnes/hr I suspect the higher end of the range seems more realistic.
However, due to the lack of infrastructure between the endpoints as well as the highly scalable and flexible nature of aviation, as a total package aviation is the most efficient means of transport on Earth. As you say, rescuing people with ships, cars and trains (that run empty most of the day) is going to cost more.


LightRain (20:28:21) :
Don’t these newspapers have Ombudsmen to look into complaints about misleading data?

Actually, this one does not. The Guardian is in the process of appointing a new Reader’s Editor.

E. Mitchell

Sadly, most journalists are innumerate. Even publications in their own field say journalists should never be allowed alone, in a room, with numbers. Remember, most are English or journalism majors and self chose those fields, in part, because they did not like thinking mathematically. Journalism schools teach reporters to try and edit out as many numbers as possible – which often results in articles that are sheer gibberish.
As of the 2005-2006 academic year, the Accrediting Council for Journalism and Mass Communications Schools adopted its first ever math recommendation that “graduates should … be able to” “apply basic numerical and statistical concepts”. This means basic arithmetic, percentages, averages and that is about it.
Consequently, journalists typically embarrass themselves when presented with numbers.

Tony (20:49:49) :
Did you consider in your calculations that at least 40% of EU flights proceeded normally during the last week? Britain is not the entire EU.

Roger Carr

stevengoddard (20:37:25) : — Doug in Seattle (20:32:34) : One thing for sure, Woods Hole…
Side note: Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.
There is a world of difference that is easy to miss in a cursory glance. Think: mistletoe; the common name for a group of hemi-parasitic plants that grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub. Or perhaps leech?

Doug in Seattle (20:32:34) :
> Specious sources would, in my opinion, include Woods Hole Institute.
The what? I don’t think there is an organization by that name, so I guess that makes anything from them specious. Maybe.
There’s the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution a respected scientific institution my brother-in-law graduated from, and there’s the Woods Hole Research Center, an activist research group focused on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and We seek to conserve and sustain the planet’s vegetation, soils, water, and climate by clarifying and communicating their interacting functions in support of human well-being and by promoting practical approaches to their management in the human interest.
Please be more explicit when you refer to one of the several research organizations at Woods Hole. (Others are the Marine Biological Laboratory, a part of the National Fisheries, and a small part of USGS on the WHOI campus.)


Doug in Seattle (20:32:34) : “Specious sources would, in my opinion, include Woods Hole Institute.”
Your opinion would be misinformed. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which is well respected, has been around since January 6, 1930.
You may be thinking of “The Woods Hole Research Center,” which is a Warmist organization started roughly in 1989. There is some confusion about the “Woods Hole” name and reputation, perhaps deliberately. There is no disclaimer on the Woods Hole Research Center home page regarding the fact that they are not connected to WHOI.


Math can be so simplistic in its brilliance.
“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….


Green journalism is the new yellow journalism.

That Guy

Is it not also true that, while the flight ban is now lifted, the CO2 is still pouring out? Will they continue to update their figures until Eyjafjallajokull stops erupting?

To defend the Grauniad, I got the same result intially based on the SO2 data and the typical SO2/CO2 ratio, and building upon the estimates of the emissions during the first eruption in March. It just happened that the April eruption was bigger at least by one order of magnitude.
I still think it’s fair to say that the “saved” CO2 emissions from the airplanes are comparable to the CO2 emitted by the volcano in the same time – and both of them are negligible. Their effect on the climate is not really worth taking about because it’s in microkelvins.


Wish we didn’t have the “decline” here in Sunny Southern California. Its been a cold, cloudy and windy spring. Today tied the record low maximum temperature ever measured in Laguna Beach:

Patrick Davis

“AEGeneral (21:23:55) :
Math can be so simplistic in its brilliance.
“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….”
A volcano on Iceland.

That Guy (22:02:45) :
Exactly. The eruption could go on for months. The volcano doesn’t stop emitting CO2, because Heathrow opened back up.
However, Plane Stupid thinks that opening up the third runway will cause the end of life as we know it on this planet.

@AEGeneral (21:23:55) :
>>“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….<<
Eyjafjallajokull = Are ya feeling loco?
Eyjafjallajokull = Eyes fill a skull full
Eyjafjallajokull = Ah we're all fulla jokes, y'all


My semi-phonetic translation of Eyjafjallajokull suggests it means a profane curse to all not local.

According to the USGS, Hot Spot volcanoes (like Iceland) produce huge amounts of CO2. Kilauea produces more CO2 than H2O.

Tectonic Style
Temperature 	Kilauea Summit
Hot Spot
1170°C 	Erta` Ale
Divergent Plate
1130°C 	Momotombo
Convergent Plate
H20 	37.1 	77.2 	97.1
C02 	48.9 	11.3 	1.44
S02 	11.8 	8.34 	0.50
H2 	0.49 	1.39 	0.70
CO 	1.51 	0.44 	0.01
H2S 	0.04 	0.68 	0.23
HCl 	0.08 	0.42 	2.89
HF 	--- 	--- 	0.26

AEGeneral (21:23:55) :
“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….

Why certainly. Eyjafjallajokull = an eye full of joe cool.


AEGeneral (21:23:55) :
““Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….”
Ancient Norse/Icelandic isn’t my strong side, but here is my suggestion:
“Eyjafjallajokull” – pronounced “eya-fialla-yoecull”
Anglofication – “Island-Mountain-Glacier”
Any Icelanders around to confirm this?

Brian Johnson uk

During the BBC Radio 5 [April 22] at around 03:35 BST the same Grauniad figures were quoted by a Doctor Karl/Rhod Sharp as evidence of the drop in CO2 production with all EU aircraft grounded.
The usual BBC progress.

Al Gored

Just found this from a poster named dot_bust, on Wed, 04/21/2010 – 16:18, at
Eyjafjallajokull [snip]
AP says “Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl)”
AP also worries about “an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano” which would help. Kat-la.

JAN (23:17:52) : ““Eyjafjallajokull” – pronounced “eya-fialla-yoecull” Anglofication – “Island-Mountain-Glacier” ”
I’m not Icelandic, so I wont judge whether this is close enough, but Icelanders pronounce double l’s as “dl”. Both eyja and fjalla are genitive *plurals*, so “islands-mountains-glacier” (“the mountains of the islands glacier”) is technically more correct,
In my Norwegian ears Icelanders speak fast and unintelligible, and since the languages are strangely close relatives yet quite different, I can’t help saying Øyfjelljøkulen, the modern (southeast) Norwegian equivalent.
The world’s journalists will be relieved the day Katla erupts making Eyjafjallajökull insignificant…

Dave F

Eyjafjallajokull = Eyja mountain glacier (translatedish)= Eyja M.G.
How’s that?

anyway wha’t wrong with co2 anyway I don’t think the sane take too much notice of all that crap that there saying


Or you could try: I yaf yalla yerkel. Jays are whys.
The name Eyjafjallajökull is made up of the words eyja (genitive plural of ey, meaning eyot or island), fjalla (genitive plural of fjall, whose nominative plural is fjöll, meaning fells or mountains) and jökull (meaning glacier, cognate with the -icle in icicle). A literal translation would thus be the “island-fells glacier” or the “island-mountains glacier”. Wikipedia.

Leo Norekens

Here’s how you pronounce it.


Has anyone placed a link in the comments to this article? did it even make moderation? (my guess is no).
I stopped buying newspapers along time again when i realised they stopped reporting news and started reporting anything that made a good story!
I’ll be gutted when they place the pay wall on the Times though.

Stefan P

..“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….

whats about:

Troels Halken

“The BBC estimated that these other modes of transport generate as much CO2 as the planes would have.”
The BBC estimated…

Many journalists are lazy. What passes for journalism today is, in the main, a regurgitation of press releases by advocacy groups. I take my hat off to the small (and diminishing) band of proper investigative and sceptical journalists.


Lubos Motl,
“I still think it’s fair to say that the “saved” CO2 emissions from the airplanes are comparable to the CO2 emitted by the volcano in the same time – and both of them are negligible.”
Maybe so, but I would say a large number, possibly the majority, of travellers are still stranded abroad and awaiting flights. What happens to the equations when all these extra flights are factored in.
BTW, I don’t understand the point of the Gaurdian article anyway. Are they saying that Volcanoes are a good thing because they bring aviation to a halt?


Here Yesterday Gone Today.
Posted the following at Comment is Free if you agree, censored out?
21 Apr 2010, 6:46PM
Dear Leo
People like you who go round calling people deniers, because we don’t believe in your stupid unsubstantiated ideas ought to be given a good intellectual seeing to?
Let’s see now how you and your mates, who just love the IPPC and those jokers at UNRealClimate, are doing in their exams:-
1 Hockey stick graphs all by the mates. Discredited nonsense.
2 Himalayan glaciers gone by 2035. Wrong
3 African food production halved by 2020. Wrong
4 Copenhagen hotel bill 500 euros a night. Right
5 Arctic ice gone by 2008. Wrong.
6 Polar bear population declining. Wrong.
7 Fiddling data by scientists at the heart of the IPPC. Right.
8 Acidification of the seas. OOPS sorry they are alkaline.
9 Met office predictions always wrong. Even managed to shut down UK plc whilst those pesky Netherlanders were flying over the UK?
10 CO2 level rises, global temperatures in stasis.
11 Highest temperature in US 1998. Wrong, 1935?
12 Temperatures in NZ and Australia fiddled upwards
13 The totally discredited CRU, do not use the vast majority of the temperature data provided by Russia. Why?
Read the emails, and one can only wonder how corrupt self named climate science has become supported by journos who have no credibility.
The hypothesis that man made CO2 will cause dangerous global is not proven.
One thing you can’t deny, Leo is your mates at CRU did the following:-
1 Fiddled the figures
2 Prevented papers from being published
3 Perverted the democratic process on freedom of information.
The decision I need to make is do I install a urinal in my house to save the planet or kill someone who plays golf.
Maybe I should Ask Hope and Dope?
A great newspaper brought low by non-entities.
“Harsh but Fair”


It would be an interesting attitudinal and linguistic exercise to analyse said Guardian article and the responses drawn from Guardian followers (i am unsure that ‘reader’ would be a correct definition). In my view, the more evidence emerges that a considerable volume of AGW pronouncements are not a product of any actual branch of science but of advocacy groups, the shriller and more vituperative the comments of Guardianistas become.


Not only might this eruption continue for months- even years- but there is a much larger volcano, Katla, which has erupted in tandem with this volcano, the last few times it has become active.


The Guardian is nothing more than a propaganda outlet for the government. It’s taken sometime to figure that out. The Guardian is setup to target the middle class with propaganda and dis/misinformation. If only the middle class new that in the long run, it will be the end of them.


Good work Steven, the article has been refuted.
I’m more concerned about the ash, SO2 and fluorine compounds that this unpronounceable volcano is pushing out, rather than the CO2.
Trust the Gruniad to always get hold of the wrong end of the stick!

Dave Wendt

In re alternate travel choices during the grounding
John Cleese of Monty Python fame took a $5100 cab ride from Oslo to Brussels. CO2 contribution not mentioned.

Frank Kotler

“Eyefull of yoghurt” – may not be correct, but it’ll give the Icelanders a laugh – which I suspect they need.
Forget the plant-food! Fluorine? Been troublesome in the past, I understand.


The petagrams diagram would be much more powerful if the boxes were sized in proportion to the numbers displayed.
Nice post. And as you rightly pointed out, we now have the volcano AND the planes AND the extra ferries, so big fat raspberry to the innumerate Gurardian.


To be fair to Plane Stupid, they do have a point about the incessant noise of aircraft. I lived in Windsor for 7 years. A lovely town but the constant screaming of jet engines (one every 90 seconds from 4.30am until midnight) drove me out.

Rhys Jaggar

Well, I opined on this site a few days ago that it was just possible that a green conspiracy was trying to keep the planes out of the air to bankrupt them.
I note the EU is saying that all airlines must pay all expenses of stranded passengers, which will mean:
i. Higher fares for all as airlines need to stockpile a cash chest for a future thing.
ii. A number of airlines shifting toward Chapter 11 or the EU likewise.
iii. A clear signal from the EU that it is looking to hound airlines.
That measure was designed for the odd cancelled flight due to a plane going wrong and no spare being around at that time, inclement weather e.g. snow at a couple of airports grounding flights etc.
It was not designed for things like this.
And the fact the EU is saying it won’t change regulations is worrying.
All I know is, within 24 hours of me saying it might be a green plot, Willie Walsh starting flying planes to England and got the media going.
Well done Willie Walsh.
Flying is a good thing.
Cheap, safe flying has emancipated the people of Europe.
Is that the single most dangerous threat to Eurocrats in the 21st century????


JAN, your translation is indeed correct. I found that Wikipedia has a link where you can listen to the Icelandic pronounciation too, try it!
( I’m not sure whether my link will work, but otherwise just search for Eyjafjallajokull.)ökull

Alan the Brit

You forgot to add in all the CO2 expelled by politicians, journos, members of the public, with all the adrenalin pumping round their systems through the excitement of it all! Must run to Zillions of tons! On top of that you have to add in all the CO2 & hot air generated by the UK’s General Election campaigning!

Squarebob Spongepants

“ll” is pronounced “tl”, except at the end, where the final “l” gets lost, and “j” is “y”
“AY-ah fiat-la YOH-khut”, all softly voiced, so it is almost like “[H]ey, ya fergot le yoghurt”
Or so I heard.
Island mountain glacier is the literal meaning, as a seafarer long ago might have named it as it appeared on approach from the south.

“Eyjafjallajokull,” on the other hand….gimme an abbreviation….something….anything….
Eyva – from the same root as “is” in is-land (land of an island).
Fjalla – from the same root as “fell”
JÖKULL, diminutive of jaki, same root as Anglo Saxon. gecele which in its variant gicel was formed to give îs-gicel, whence English icicle. Note also: kul-víss, adjective: sensitive to cold.
gecele an icicle relates to ge-célan (To make cold, to cool). ge- is common prefix so ge-célan is related to célan (to cool) from same root at céle,(A cold, coldness) from which we get the modern “chill” (c->ch)
It’s also worth noting the “is” of island was spelt exactly the same as “eye” in Old English.
From which I would suggest the ultimate Anglicised pronunciation would be: