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Moving from CO2 Capture to CO2 Coalition

By Frits Byron Soepyan with photos from Sam Burns

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I am a chemical engineer who once did research on removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the emissions of industrial plants or directly from the atmosphere. But I now see CO2 as a critical plant food necessary for all of life on Earth. Frankly, the more the better.

In my former career, I presented my research on optimizing a CO2 capture system for a coal-fired power plant in the 2018 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting. I also contributed to a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which involved integrating a natural gas power plant with CO2 capture systems.

Despite my career path, I was skeptical about the popular theory of human-induced climate change. Furthermore, at the time, I had a generally positive view of fossil fuels. In fact, my Ph.D. research was funded by Chevron, a descendant of the Standard Oil Co. and among the archvillains of those predicting overheating from emissions of CO2.

Nonetheless, it was not until I read a CO2 Coalition paper titled “Challenging ‘Net Zero’ with Science” that my eyes were fully opened. The authors’ arguments were based on rigorous scientific inquiry. They concluded that CO2 and fossil fuels are beneficial, that there is no climate crisis, and that “net zero” policies seeking the elimination of CO2 emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas are detrimental – even dangerous.

I was struck most by the benefits of CO2, which was something I had not put much thought into. CO2 is essential for plant growth and food production. In fact, doubling atmospheric CO2 from today’s concentrations of approximately 400 parts per million (ppm) to 800 ppm could increase food production by 40-60%.

The CO2 Coalition paper referenced the works of Dr. Sherwood B. Idso. After digging deeper, I found out about experiments with sour orange trees performed by Drs. Idso and Bruce A. Kimball (published in 1993, 1997, and 2001). Compared to trees in ambient air, ones exposed to air enriched with CO2 concentrations of 700 ppm grew 2.75 times larger at the end of the second year, 2.0 times larger at the end of the fifth, and 1.8 times larger after nine years. Beginning in the third year, fruit production for CO2-enriched trees was 25 times greater and eventually averaged to almost twofold through the entire life cycle of the plant.

Higher concentrations of CO2 also reduce plants’ loss of water vapor through lowered transpiration rates, where transpiration refers to the exchange of oxygen for CO2 through openings in leaves known as stomata. In other words, higher concentrations of CO2 increase plants’ resistance to drought. This, in turn, means that more moisture remains in the soil and has been partially credited with a global decline in wildfire. This phenomenon was confirmed through research published in 2003, where the water-use efficiency of sour orange trees exposed to CO2 concentrations of 700 ppm increased by 80% compared to those exposed to ambient air.

As for fossil fuels, their benefits are seemingly endless. First, they are reliable and cheap sources of energy. And their combustion emits the CO2 that is salutary to plant growth.

What was new to me is the role of fossil fuels in providing fertilizers and pesticides critical to growing the food required for the world’s 8 billion people. For instance, ammonia (NH3), a crucial component of fertilizer, can be formed by reacting natural gas with atmospheric nitrogen (N2), and pesticides are produced from oil and gas. One billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States, where they keep weeds and insects in check to allow modern agriculture’s extraordinary level of crop production.

In short, CO2 is absolutely necessary for life and more of it is clearly a plus. Fossil fuels improve the quality of life and make rich lives possible for many billions, whereas mere millions once struggled mightily just to survive. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere makes no sense.

Finally, CO2 capture, besides being illogical, is prohibitively expensive. Capturing CO2 from emissions and then transporting and storing it can cost trillions of dollars and decades of investment. CO2 capture systems cannot operate without ongoing government subsidies, and currently, are only removing approximately 0.1% of the 40 billion tons of CO2 emitted per year.

At this point, bottling up CO2 should be left for manufacturers of carbonated beverages and dry ice and for the purposes of other specialized industrial processes. I am very happy to have transitioned from CO2 capture to the CO2 Coalition, and I am working hard to spread the facts about the benefits of this amazing molecule.

This commentary was first published at American Thinker on November 29, 2023.

Order Greg's book and learn the facts. Click on the image.
Order Greg's book and learn the facts. Click on the image.

Frits Byron Soepyan is a Research and Science Associate with the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from The University of Tulsa and has worked as a process systems engineer and a researcher in energy-related projects.

We still have some of these brochures from the CO2 Coalition. It you want one, send your address to
We still have some of these brochures from the CO2 Coalition. It you want one, send your address to

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