Exxon Mobile 1977 Memo: Controlling Atmospheric CO2

Dr. R. L. Hirsch:

The attached memorandum presents the results of a study on the
potential impact of fossil fuel combustion on the CO, concentration in the
atmosphere. this study was made by Steve Knisely a summer employee in
Planning Engineering Division.

The study considers the changes in future energy sources which
would be necessary to control the atmospheric CO, concentration at different leve1ls. The principle assumption for the CO2 balance is that 50% of the CO. generated by fossil fuels remains in the-atmosphere. This corresponds
to the recent data on the increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere compared to the quantity of fossil fuel combusted.
Present climatic models predict that the present trend of fossil
fuel use will lead to dramatic climatic changes within the next 75 years.

However, it is not obvious whether these changes would be all bad or all good.
The major conclusion from this report ls that, should it be deemed necessary
to maintain atmospheric CO,, levels to prevent significant climatic changes,
dramatic changes in patterns of energy use would be required. World fossil
fuel resources other than oil and gas could never be used to an appreciable

No practical means of recovering and disposing of CO, emissions has
yet been developed and the above conclusion assumes that recovery will not
be feasible.

It must be realized that there is great uncertainty in the existing climatic models because of a poor understanding of the atmospheric/
terrestrial/oceanic CO. balance. Much more study and research in this area
is required before roaj6r changes in energy type usage could be recommended.

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