The following information is derived from the Union of Concerned Scientists website.
In 2003 Malaysia was the 27th largest emitter of carbon from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring. We released 42 million metric tons of carbon (not carbon dioxide gas mind you, just the mass of carbon without the attached oxygen or other elements). To clarify, 1 metric ton = 1000 kilogrammes. 1 million = 1,000,000.
This is can be compared to the top 5 emitters: USA (1st at 1,580 million metric tons), Mainland China (1,131 million), Russia (a sharp drop down to 408 million), India (348 million), and Japan (336 million). Tiny Singapore is 58th at 13 million metric tons.
However, Malaysia was only 61st largest emitter per capita. When averaged out, each Malaysian only emitted 1.74 metric tons of carbon (not CO2). This can be compared to the USA (11th at 5.43), Mainland China (101st at 0.86, thanks to their 1.3 billion population), and Singapore (25th at 2.99, which means quite a bit of carbon release for their mere 4.5 million population).
To get an idea of how much carbon that really is, this site gives the figure that the total mass of Earth’s entire atmosphere is about 5.3 million, million, million kilogrammes or 5,300 million, million metric tons.
Now, taking the relative atomic mass of carbon as 12 and that of oxygen as 16, carbon dioxide (1 carbon and 2 oxygen) would have a relative atomic mass of 44. A molecule of CO2 has 3.667 times more mass than an atom of carbon.
Therefore, we can assume that 1 metric ton of carbon produces about 3.667 metric tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, assuming all the carbon is released in the form of carbon dioxide.
Comparing the carbon emissions with the amount of total atmosphere, we find that in 2003 the USA’s carbon dioxide emissions amounted to a miniscule 0.0001093% of the entire atmosphere.
Taken together, the top 20 carbon emitters for 2003 released 5,508 million metric tons of carbon, which would amount to 20,198 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That is 0.0003809% of the atmosphere.
Compare this to my calculation from this post that carbon dioxided makes up 0.0383% of the atmosphere.
In conclusion, both emissions of carbon dioxide by humans and total carbon dioxide make up a tiny, tiny portion of the atmosphere.
This is one reason why I am skeptical that CO2 emissions really have such a big impact on global temperature rise as some global warming proponents assert.
On the other hand, I have heard of research that says CO2 abosorbs a particular wavelength of infrared radiation (heat rays) that is not absorbed by other gases, and that this band of IR only takes a tiny amount of CO2 to absorb it.
But in refutation of that theory, once that miniscule amount of infrared wavelength has been absorbed, there will be nothing more for CO2 to catch – so adding even huge amounts of extra CO2 won’t make a difference!