If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



More On Breathing And CO2

November 29, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 48

ACS 2009 IRS Form 990 Available

The American Chemical Society’s 2009 Form 990 is now available on ACS’s website. To access the information, go to and follow these instructions: Click on “About Us,” then click on “ACS Financial Information.” Go to the heading, “ACS IRS Form 990,” and click on “2009 IRS Form 990.”Please see also the related “Guide to Schedule J” for explanatory information regarding ACS Executive Compensation. If you have any access problems, contact

James P. Hardy is simply wrong when he writes “the world's human population—people breathing—is a significant source of carbon dioxide added to our atmosphere daily.” He adds other animals as well (C&EN, Nov. 1, page 2). Human and other animal respiration does not add CO2 to the atmosphere. Every atom of carbon they place into the atmosphere by respiration was recently removed by plants in photosynthesis. The net addition of carbon is a flat zero. The additional CO2 spoken of by climate-change scientists is the currently oxidized carbon removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago and sequestered in coal, petroleum, and natural gas and only now being re-released into the atmosphere.

He suggests this might be an interesting problem for high school students. I agree, but they should follow all carbon, not just that being recycled daily from atmosphere to plant to animal and back.

Albert S. Kirsch
Bal Harbour, Fla.

Hardy’s letter concerning CO2 production from respiration is typical of the half-truths propagated by those who oppose trying to mitigate global warming. The other part, of course, is that nearly every molecule of CO2 respired is fixed by a green plant somewhere lower in the food chain from CO2 already in the atmosphere. The net CO2 production is zero.

Most people learn about the carbon cycle in seventh-grade science class. Every molecule of CO2 produced from fossil-fuel combustion is CO2 that has not been in the atmosphere for many millions of years and that we are releasing in a very short period of time.

James E. Pickett
Schenectady, N.Y.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.