Atmospheric CO2 at Highest Level in 0.8 Million Years
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are the highest they have been in the whole of human history.
Scientists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, Calif., are reporting that the planet’s average carbon dioxide (CO2) level throughout all of April was 401.33 parts per million. That is, they say, more CO2 in the atmosphere than in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas believed to be most responsible for climate change, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Research Lab.
Atmospheric CO2 levels have been measured continuously since 1958. The practice was started by Charles David Keeling at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, whose measurements showed the first hard evidence that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were rising rapidly. His ‘Keeling Curve’ is the graph used to plot ongoing changes in CO2 levels. Keeling’s son, Ralph Keeling, now oversees the Curve at Scripps and said Thursday that measurements of CO2 levels taken at Mauna Loa are representative of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations worldwide.
There is a consensus among scientists the world over that the rapidly rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere come from burning fossil fuels–oil, gas, and coal. Burning these fuels creates a ‘greenhouse effect’ that causes the planet to warm to unprecedented levels. Such levels, scientists say, cannot be attributed to natural causes.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels are believed to have been about 280 parts per million. Then humans began releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to fuel their cotton mills, factories, and automobiles.
The first measurement Keeling took in 1958 showed atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 316 parts per million. Today, just half a century later, the levels have topped 400 parts per million. There is, perhaps, little wonder why some scientists now say that if the world does not immediately take drastic steps to reduce greenhouse gases, climate change will be impossible to stop.