Human Breathing and CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): As Anthropogenic Causes of Climate Change and Global Warming

August 18, 2010

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The question is: in the U.S. and the world, how much CO2 is produced, per year, by an average man and women through the life-giving function of breathing?



Per the EPA, the average person, through the natural process of breathing, produces approximately 2.3 pounds (1 kg) of CO2 per day or 365 kg per year. (Source:


Using population figures of: 309.4 million for the U.S. (Source:, May, 26, 2010) 6,823.4 million for the World (Source:, May, 26, 2010)


This calculates to: • the U.S. population produces 112.9 million metric tons of CO2 per year by breathing, • the World population produces 2,603.5 million metric tons of CO2 per year by breathing.


COMPARISON TO ELECTRICAL GENERATION POWER PLANTS To put this in perspective, these numbers are compared to “Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Generation of Electric Power in the United States.” (Source:, July 2000).


In 1999, estimated emissions of CO2 in the United States resulting from the generation of electric power was 2,245 million metric tons, includes all coal, petroleum, natural gas, and non-fossil fuel burning power generation stations.

Therefore: • per year, the entire U.S. population produces 5% as much CO2 as all the electrical generation power plants in the U.S., • per year, the entire World population produces 116% as much CO2 as all the electrical generation power plants in the U.S.


COMPARISON TO PASSENGER VEHICLES Doing the same sort of analysis with passenger vehicles in the U.S., the annual emissions from a typical passenger vehicle was determined to be 5.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Source:, February 2005).

According to the US Bureau of Transit Statistics for 2006 there are 250,844,644 registered passenger vehicles in the US.(Source:

This equates to 1,379.6 million metric tons of CO2 produced by all passenger cars per year.

Therefore: • per year, the entire U.S. population produces 8% as much CO2 as all the passenger vehicles in the U.S., • per year, the entire World population produces 189% as much CO2 as all the passenger vehicles in in the U.S.

Notes: 1. Analysis includes only humanity and does not include any other oxygen breathing and CO2 emitting life forms. 2. Analysis includes passenger vehicles in the U.S. only and does not include planes, trains and other fossil-fueled vehicles in the U.S. and other countries. 3. U.S. autos account for half of global warming linked to cars worldwide. (Source:…/a/autoemissions.htm).



As we were taught in grade school, humans breathe to live and correspondingly produce CO2. Though in today’s socio-political landscape, one can say humanity is an emitter of CO2, a GHG, which is a concern to some as it relates to climate change and global warming.

Nevertheless, it can be said that the worldwide human population produces almost twice the amount of CO2 emissions than all the passenger vehicles in the U.S.

In closing, the environmental impact of human-breathing related CO2 emissions is left to your beliefs and best settled by debate.


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