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The CO2 Deficit

By Bonne Posma and Andrew Kenny

October 8, 2019 - On December 7, 2007, the EPA declared that CO2 is a pollutant.  If you accept CO2 is a pollutant, then it stands to reason that it would be desirable to eliminate all CO2 from the atmosphere.

However, CO2 is absolutely essential for plant life: No CO2, No Plants, No Food, Death of all Humans.

CO2 is the gas of life – when 6 molecules of CO2 react with 6 molecules of H2O in the presence of chlorophyll and sunlight, the plant creates 6 molecules of C6H12O6 (glucose) and 6 molecules of O2 without which air breathing animals could not survive.  The glucose is processed to form other molecules essential for plant growth.

If CO2 is essential for life on earth, what would be the optimum level?

Since the Cambrian Period, 550 million years ago, when advanced multi-celled life began, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has averaged over 2,000 ppm. This is what plants are used to. Over the last 550 million years, there have been two drops in CO2 concentration, either of which could have ended in mass extinction of life on Earth ( Figure 1).


        Figure 1: CO2 levels for the past 600 million years ( +from data by Berner & Kothavala, 2001)

In the first drop, from about 400 to 370 million years ago, the probable cause was lignin formation in the wood of trees (lignin is a carbon-based polymer comprising 30% of the dry mass of wood).  The trees turned some carbon into lignin, but when the trees died there was nothing that could break it down. So, wood didn't decompose, but turned into coal and oil. CO2 was sucked out of the air. Finally, at the 11th hour, about 290 million years ago, a rescuer came along. It was the white rot fungus, which used very complicated chemistry to break down the lignin and release CO2 back into the air.   Catastrophe was averted.


Figures 2-3: Wood rot. Almost 300 million years ago, the rot fungus infested dead trees to decompose its lignite to release CO2 back into the atmosphere. That fungus prevented extinction of life on earth as we know it today.

The second drop in CO2 happened from about 150 to 20 million years ago. This time the probable cause was an increase in shell forming marine organisms. These made calcium carbonate compounds from carbon. When they die, nothing can decompose them and they settle at the bottom of the oceans forming limestones and marble. In the last 500,000 years, during the ice ages, CO2 dropped to as low as 180 ppm. This was very close to catastrophe, which would have happened at about 150 ppm. It rose to about 280 ppm after each ice age (cold water absorbs CO2, warm water releases it), but it was still dangerously low. And then another rescuer came along: us.

We have forced CO2 up from about 280 ppm in the 19th Century to about 400 ppm now, mainly by burning coal, oil and gas. It's the best thing we have ever done for the planet.  Craig D. Idso , in 2007 conducted experiments showing that significantly increased CO2 levels were very beneficial for plant growth.  Figure 4 shows the amazing improvement in plant growth when the CO2 concentration was increased from about 200 ppm to 750 ppm.

Recent research at Boston University has shown that as a direct result of increased atmospheric CO2 over the past 30 years, there has been a 14% increase in green vegetation on earth – in all vegetation types, from tropical rainforests to arctic tundra.
(Global Greening up exponentially due to CO 2 increase)  


Figure 4: Growth of common houseplants at 196 ppm and 752 ppm above the atmosphere’s current CO2 concentration


Figure 5: Greenhouse CO2 generator to boost CO2 concentration to 1500 ppm

Patrick Moore ii has determined that the optimum level of atmospheric CO2 to provide abundant food for the world’s expanding population should be 2,000 ppm.

It is interesting to note that previous CO2 alarmist, James Lovelock ( originator of the Gaia hypothesis), reversed himself about 10 years ago and now supports increased use of fossil fuels to potentially help mitigate the effects of the next ice age. This action was also proposed in 1900 by the first proponent of CO2-linked global warming, Svante Arrhenius (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1903).

The present 400 ppm CO2 concentration appears, therefore, to be too low in historical terms, and the present CO2 deficit can symbolically be presented by comparison to a fuel gauge as in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Moore CO2 atmospheric fuel gauge

For more information, contact Bonne Posma, Saminco Inc., 10030 Amberwood Road, Fort Myers, FL 33913, phone 239.561.1561, fax 239.561.1502, or visit

Bonne Posma is CEO of Saminco Inc.

Andrew Kenny is a South African technical writer with degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering

[1] (28 June 2012). Tracking the Remnants of the Carbon Cycle: How an Ancestral Fungus May Have Influenced Coal Formation.

[1] Moore, Patrick (15 Oct 2015). Patrick Moore:  Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?

[1] (Accessed 2018, April 11). Plants Need CO2. CO2 is Green… and Green is Good

[1] Ridley, Matt (23 October 2016). Global Greening Up Exponentially Due To CO2 Increase: Green is a bigger effect than warming.