Earth’s atmospheric CO2 hasn’t been this high in millions of years

Climate scientists and concerned citizens are sounding the alarm as daily, weekly and monthly records for atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to be shattered while the fossil fuel-powered capitalist economic system responsible for the skyrocketing greenhouse gas pollution is progressing.

New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the average weekly CO² concentration at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reached 421.13 parts per million (ppm) from May 8 to May 14, the highest high in recorded history and up from 418.34 ppm a year ago and 397.38 ppm ten years ago.

“We just don’t know a planet like this,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus said Monday. “We are in a climate emergency.”

According to NOAA, the average daily CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa reached 422.04 ppm on May 14, just slightly below the agency’s all-time high of 422.06 ppm seen on April 26. Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, meanwhile, measured 421.68 ppm CO² at Mauna Loa on May 13, which they consider Monday’s daily record.

These record daily and weekly measurements came after the average monthly CO² concentration at Mauna Loa exceeded 420 ppm for the first time in human history, with NOAA observing 420.23 ppm in April from 420.02 ppm. for Scripps.

Pieter Tans, Senior Scientist at NOAA, recently said Axios that “it is likely that May will be even higher”.

“The window for action on climate change is closing,” American Clean Power recently warned on social media. “Accelerating the transition to clean energy will help reduce emissions and ensure a healthier future for all.”

Twenty years ago, the highest monthly average CO2 concentration was 375.93 ppm, according to NOAA. In 1958, the first year scientists began collecting data on Mauna Loa, it was 317.51 ​​ppm.

Climatologist James Hansen, who alerted congressional lawmakers to the deadly dangers of the climate crisis in 1988, has long called for reducing atmospheric CO² to less than 350 ppm, and there is now scientific consensus that the the planet’s habitability decreases beyond that. a focus.

Nevertheless, the annual rate of increase in CO² levels over the past six decades is now about 100 times faster than earlier increases that occurred naturally thousands of years ago.

“The world has actually made no serious progress on what is required,” Tans said earlier this month. “We really need to focus on reducing emissions and we haven’t had much success globally as the rate of CO² increase remains as high as it has been for the past decade. .”

“CO² has a longevity of hundreds to thousands of years,” he noted, “so we’re really making a very long-term climate commitment.”

Talk with the FinancialTimes recently, Tans added that “we are going in the wrong direction, at top speed”.

Californian activist Joe Sanberg put it even more bluntly last week.

“It’s shocking that we’re looking down the barrel of the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced and we still haven’t embraced a Green New Deal,” Sanberg said. tweeted. “Time is running out. Either we drive the fossil fuel industry to extinction or the human race.”

Comments are closed.