Carbon Dioxide: “The Gas of Life”, Douglas Lightfoot

This is an outstanding clip of an interview of Douglas Lightfoot from the Tom Nelson Podcast.

The complete interview is shown below.

About H. Douglas Lightfoot:

Born in Vancouver, B.C., he graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1952, and received an MBA from Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, in 1976. He spent eighteen years with Domtar Inc. at the Research Centre in Senneville, Quebec, working on research, engineering and economic studies of a wide variety of projects for the pulp and paper, chemicals and construction materials businesses as well as alternate energies.

Prior to joining Domtar, he spent a year as Business Analyst and five years as Design Engineer designing, building and starting up chemical plants at Dupont of Canada, Montreal, Quebec. Before that, twelve years of project engineering at Standard Chemical Limited, Beauharnois, Quebec.

He is a retired member of the Order of Engineers of Quebec, Professional Engineers of Ontario, and a Life Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

He was a member of the Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre (GEC3) and its predecessor at McGill University branch, Montreal, Quebec for 23 years until it closed in 2015. He wrote and contributed to published reports for the Centre on various subjects related to energy.

Since retirement he co-founded the Lightfoot Institute, published a dozen papers on energy and the role of CO2 in the atmosphere, and reviewed more than 250 papers for energy journals.

He looks upon his current energy work as service to the community to guide people to understand the importance of energy to our society and to making good decisions to ensure an adequate and reliable energy supply.

Nobody’s Fuel – an engineer’s guide to saving the planet

People can also learn more at our websites:
Tom Nelson’s Twitter:
About Tom:
Notes for climate skeptics:
ClimateGate emails:

These two videos, excerpt and complete interview are available on our Videos page.

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Shoki Kaneda
August 24, 2022 10:12 am

The precious, life-giving, beneficial trace gas.

Reply to  Shoki Kaneda
August 24, 2022 11:41 pm

That allows us to grow more food.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
August 25, 2022 7:32 pm
August 24, 2022 10:19 am

Are children still taught that oxygen is a product of CO2 and photosynthesis? Or is that part of science skipped today because it contradicts the CO2 narrative?

Reply to  markl
August 24, 2022 6:19 pm

Actually I think they are taught that O2 is formed from water, at least I hope they are since that’s what happens. Carbohydrates however are formed from CO2 and photosynthesis.

Reply to  Phil.
August 25, 2022 7:30 am

I sure hope not as that is incorrect. In my science classes in the 70’s we were correctly taught that the process of photosynthesis generated all the O2 in the atmosphere.

Does photosynthesis simply liberate the O2 out of the water molecules?

Both carbs and O2 are products of photosynthesis, formed from CO2 and H2O.

So did the 6O2 come from water? No way to tell how much of that 6O2 came out of the water molecules but certainly you can say no more than half (6O–>3O2) could have come from the water and at least half came from the CO2.

So to say “O2 is formed from water” is literally at best a half-truth.

Reply to  menace
August 25, 2022 7:55 am

Nope, all the O2 is formed during the first stage of photosynthesis from water. It can be easily checked by isotopic analysis.
The experimental proof was provided by, Ruben, Hassid and Kamen, who used water containing heavy isotope of oxygen i.e., O−18, and carbon dioxide containing normal oxygen, in the process of photosynthesis. The oxygen released in the process of photosynthesis was heavier oxygen i.e., O−18.The more accurate balanced reaction is:
6CO2 + 12H2O -> C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O

Carbohydrates are produced in the second, light independent stage (the Calvin cycle) from the CO2

Reply to  markl
August 24, 2022 11:36 pm

They are taught that evil CO2 will burn the planet and it is their fault. Utter insanity.

Rod Evans
Reply to  markl
August 24, 2022 11:56 pm

Had you question ended at, “Are children still taught”. It would have been fully valid.

August 24, 2022 10:24 am

It is not complicated….plants love CO2 and we love plants…for O2….and many plants are tasty…many are beautiful to look at….let’s go for 800 ppm CO2.

Reply to  Antigriff
August 24, 2022 10:40 am

Billions of plants wilt every day, every month, every trimester, while greedy incorporated environmentalists deprive them of their essential nutrients.

Reply to  n.n
August 24, 2022 8:14 pm

Darn… I thought it was the sun/heat that made plants ‘wilt’. I do, however, get your point.

Reply to  Sturmudgeon
August 24, 2022 11:41 pm

More CO2 allows plants to need less water. You may not know that, but it’s true.

Reply to  Antigriff
August 24, 2022 11:32 pm

Sadly there is insufficient fossil fuel to reach this desirable target, even if we burnt the lot.

Reply to  Antigriff
August 25, 2022 5:44 am

I believe the optimum CO2 concentration for photosynthesis is ~900ppm

Reply to  bil
August 26, 2022 8:45 am

For C3 plants but for C4 plants the optimum has been passed, consequently the fraction of grasses which are C4 has increased over recent years.

August 24, 2022 10:38 am

Go green, emit. Empathize with Gaia’s… Her Choice. #PlantLivesMatter

Reply to  n.n
August 24, 2022 11:47 am

Good 20-page executive summary of a 1000+ page summary of studies of plants and CO2:

Microsoft Word – _03-26-14_ CCR-IIb SPM.doc (

Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 11:47 am

I got to wondering, following a comment by someone here recently about putting cans of (diet( soda pop in the home freezer to cool rapidly, then forgetting them.
At which point they seemingly explode because the CO2 comes out of solution and the pressure can be such as to explode the can.
(Best thing that could happen to diet soda, don’t drink that stuff unless you enjoy diarrhoea and obesity)

Previously I have my self discovered that CO2 can escape from PET bottles containing simple carbonated water.
And A Major Shock came when informed that Oxygen can get through 200micron black-plastic sheeting at the rate of 1kg per square metre per day

So – air bubbles trapped in ice, supposedly recording the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere millions and millions of years ago.

How is that?
Especially looking at the frozen image of the utube video – that gently continually rising (into the past) graph is ‘just a bit too good to be true’

Considering the Houdini attributes of both Oxygen and CO2 as I described, why are the trapped bubbles in the ice any sort of accurate record?.
Firstly, when the snow first fell and trapped the bubbles and cooled/froze, what happened to the relative concentrations of the main atmospheric gases?
Did CO2 escape as it does the PET water bottles, did Oxygen get in as per the plastic sheeting and what was Nitrogen doing during all this?

Especially as and per the soda pop ‘experiment’. CO2 would be squeezed out of the water/ice as it cooled.
It couldn’t get back into the water/ice so did it remain trapped while the Oxygen escaped – did CO2 coming out of the colling water/ice displace Oxygen – thus giving a very false reading for what’s in the trapped bubbles?
It gets worse because CO2 reacts with rain (and presumably snow) as those things fall, creating Carbonic Acid.
Thus every rain-drop has a pH of around 5.4 and this is no matter what the concentration of CO2 was that the rain fell through.
10ppm or 10 million ppm

What happens to that acid as it freezes, does the Carbonic Acid decompose to CO2?

That CO2 would be trapped because it cannot get back into the water and migrate its way up to the surface/atmosphere’I asset that that would enrich the trapped bubbles and create an even bigger error in the measured amounts.

To wrap it all up, I guess/think/claim that the measurements of trapped CO2 in the ice-cores are all crap.

Well maybe no they’re not BUT, what they are measuring (if you followed my arguement) what they are recording is effectivley the amount of Carbonic Acid that feel and it can ONLY depend on the amount of rain/snow that fell. Because the strength of the Carbonic Acid is always independant of the atmospheric level of CO2.

Those CO2 levels in the ice cores are records of ancient and prehistoric rainfall – NOT levels of CO2 (at the time)

Or are they, am I talking nonsense?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 1:38 pm

It seems reasonable that if there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, more carbonic acid will be created, in proportion the the amount of CO2. Its pH will not change because there is more or less of it.

Len Werner
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 1:45 pm

One more to add–algae as food and the fungi–like yeast, blowin’ in the wind–to eat it. Ever made wine or beer?–what does yeast do when it eats? It pees alcohol (bless the little beggars) and farts CO2.

So if any of that pink algae I used to see on the snow in the Juneau Icefields and St. Elias Mountains got buried millennia ago in the Antarctic ice sheet from which CO2 is extracted from cores today–where did the CO2 come from?

Is it fact or fart?

George Montgomery
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 3:17 pm

The solubility of carbon dioxide in ice depends on the volume of the spaces in the crystalline structure of the ice. The carbon dioxide that can’t fit in those spaces escapes from the ice as happens with cans of soda left in the freezer.
The soda-ice still retains some carbon dioxide in its crystalline structure but obviously not as much as it did before freezing. .
Ice cores contain melt layers formed during warmer weather when snow melts, flows down through lower snow and is then rapidly frozen. Those melt layers do not contain carbon dioxide.
Some trivia:
De-aerated water is made by repeatedly freezing water in a vacuum line and collecting the gases that come off.
There is a dynamic equilibrium between the carbon dioxide dissolved in water and the carbonic acid it forms.
Carbonic acid is found in glacial ice and decomposes when it melts to form carbon dioxide and water.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 3:51 pm

I’m the exploding diet pop cans in the freezer guy. About once a year. I also assume water expands when frozen and the cans are not very strong — it is the cans fault, not my fault. Or so I tell the wife as I am cleaning up the mess — They don’t make cans like they used to. Or husbands.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 25, 2022 5:51 am

“I’m the exploding diet pop cans in the freezer guy. About once a year.”

Definition of insanity? 🙂

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 25, 2022 7:19 am

Hey, they don’t call them “pop” cans for nothin’!

Johne Morton
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 24, 2022 6:43 pm

A simple question to ask a true believer in the CO2-is-climate-control-knob idea would be, does the CO2 in my soda control my refrigerator temperature? They’d say, of course not. Then ask, why does the soda in my fridge fizz less than soda left inside my car in summer? If they’re honest, they’ll say it’s because the soda in the fridge is cooler, and can hold more CO2. Then ask them, shouldn’t the oceans be the same way? The temperature changes, and THEN the CO2 concentration changes, not vice-versa. And then prepare for the train of yeah-but statements…

August 24, 2022 1:18 pm

Good to know others like the CO2 famine slide … And we should #CelebrateCO2.

August 24, 2022 1:21 pm

Yes, it’s hilarious how the anti carbon crusaders continually suppress the knowledge that all Earth-based life is based upon carbon, and attempt to treat carbon as a pollutant, a dangerously toxic substance that has one purpose – to kill you and destroy the planet. They’ve done a fairly effective job of demonizing carbon, certainly have all the media ignoramuses fully believing their bullshit.

Thank god for us engineers like Dr Lightfoot, who exist to convert scientific principles into useful tools and products. Thank god also for scientists who actually pursue science instead of politically correct grants designed to fool the masses.

Reply to  Duane
August 24, 2022 11:39 pm

And us sceptical right wing loons who know the greentards are both stupid and dishonest.

Reply to  Duane
August 25, 2022 5:50 am

I just ask if they’ve thought about stopping breathing as they are emitting CO2 an thus exacerbating the (non-)issue

August 24, 2022 3:00 pm

too bad the EPA was just given authority to regulate CO2 as part of the “anti-inflation” bill

let the madness commence

Reply to  TallDave
August 24, 2022 3:58 pm

“A few of these provisions defining EPA authority “are going to be pretty helpful to EPA lawyers, and in general are going to show that EPA isn’t acting like some kind of rogue woke agency in pursuing some of these climate change measures,” Farber told Bloomberg Law.

That kind of legal boost is useful after June’s ruling in West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court climate battle that curtailed the agency’s ability to broadly regulate power plant carbon emissions.

Justices based their ruling on the major questions doctrine, which requires that Congress must explicitly grant agencies authority to act on far-reaching economic and political issues. By opening up the Clean Air Act and reinforcing that legislative language, the climate law helps insulate the agency from similar legal battles in the future.

The law reaffirms the agency’s mandate to regulate greenhouse gases in an added section 135 of the Clean Air Act, which carves out $87 million “to ensure that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are achieved through use of existing authorities.

This could quell future challengers targeting the carbon authority granted in Massachusetts v. EPA, the ruling in a 2007 climate case that allowed the EPA to establish authority to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.”

Climate Law Gives Clean Air Act a Legal Boost After Court Rebuke (

Ulric Lyons
August 24, 2022 4:50 pm

The solar “Minimum of 2042” isn’t going to happen, this centennial minimum affects just cycles 24 and 25. Global cooling in the 2040’s will be for the same reason as in the 1970’s, stronger solar wind states driving colder ocean phases.

Chris Wright
August 25, 2022 3:05 am

Carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. That’s because greenhouses don’t work by trapping radiation, they work by trapping warm air. How appropriate that the name of this junk theory is based on wrong science!

CO2 is indeed the gas of life. Without atmospheric CO2 all trees and plants would quickly die. A major NASA study a few years ago showed that Earth has been growing greener at a dramatic rate. The reasons, according to the study: enhanced CO2 (thanks to humans) and – oh, the irony! – global warming.

Here’s proof that the whole climate change doom thing is not just wrong, but completely barking mad: the people who call themselves green demonise the very thing that makes the planet green.

August 25, 2022 3:47 am

Children might be taught that trees have so many branches and so many leaves so that they can capture the very scarce gas carbon dioxide. Then they could be shown the pictures of trees grown in differing levels of carbon dioxide. Then they could be given an illustration of 3 dots per 10000 vs 4 dots per 10000. And last an illustration of 2000 dots per 10000 during the dinosaur era.

August 25, 2022 5:42 am

I believe (and any submariners out there can correct me) but CO2 alarms on submarines are a set at 5000-8000ppm. I f we can survive in a CO2 rich environment so can most other organisms.

Bruce Cobb
August 25, 2022 6:34 am

What is this “carbon dioxide” you keep going on about? Everyone knows it is carbon that is the evil destroyer of the planet. Sheesh.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 25, 2022 7:56 am

I can remember when ‘crystallized’ carbon was a girl’s “best friend”.

August 25, 2022 7:18 am

What? There’s still some questioning whether or not CO2 is good or bad for the planet? Really?
It is absolutely way past time to rebuild the loony bins around the world to house the climate cultists when they finally discover that the whole AGW climate thing is a gross scam. Well, maybe they never will, cuz true believers never seem to wake up.

August 25, 2022 8:11 am

The assertion on the graph at the top of the post is misleading, flowering plants developed as the CO2 became lower at the end of the Cretaceous and C4 plants developed around 5Mya. The high CO2 world was a lot different than today.

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