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CO₂ reaches its highest level in more than 4 million years

This continued accumulation of greenhouse gas is driving dangerous global heating around the world.
Image: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

As surely as the rains fall and flowers blossom, the Northern Hemisphere awakens every June to another, less inspiring rite of spring—a new peak level for global atmospheric carbon dioxide. This year, that number is 419 CO₂ molecules for every million molecules of air, a.k.a. parts per million.

Based on geological evidence collected over the six decades scientists have been tracking atmospheric CO₂, this year’s peak appears to be the highest in as long as 4.5 million years. This continued accumulation of greenhouse gas is driving dangerous global heating around the world.

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In 1958, when modern measurements began, atmospheric CO₂ was at 316 ppm. Three centuries ago, before the beginning of the industrial age, geological records show that number was 280 ppm. In other words, by burning fossil fuels in generators and cars, humanity has increased concentrations of the most important greenhouse gas by 50%.

Two organisations have kept the historical record over the past six decades. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography pioneered the practice when climate scientist Charles David Keeling set up his equipment on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration followed in 1974.

Pandemic-related economic disruptions that drastically reduced emissions had practically no effect on the trajectory of CO₂, a finding researchers predicted as early as April 2020. The May average rose by 1.8 ppm over May 2020, slightly less than the annual growth rate for 2017 and 2011. Atmospheric CO₂ concentrations fluctuate year by year, and averaged about 2.5 ppm a year from 2010 to 2019. The numbers aren’t determined solely by pollution, but also depend on variations in the rate that oceans and plants soak up CO₂. The atmospheric concentration follows a seasonal cycle, peaking typically in May, when plants in the Northern Hemisphere—where most of them live—begin drawing CO₂ into tissue.

“The ultimate control knob on atmospheric CO₂ is fossil-fuel emissions,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at Scripps and son of the scientist who launched measurements in 1958, “but we still have a long way to go to halt the rise, as each year more CO₂ piles up in the atmosphere. We ultimately need cuts that are much larger and sustained longer than the Covid-related shutdowns of 2020.”

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Yeah, nice and warm here.

Speak to the big super powers, the US, USA and Russia.
They were and are the big culprits. They must pay up.

“The ultimate control knob on atmospheric CO₂ is fossil-fuel emissions,”

No.

Pales in comparison to methane emitted by cattle, CO2 by volcanoes.

More fear porn.

What caused the Dalton and Maunder minima, fossil-fuel as well?

They should rather concentrate on the arrivial of the next minimum.

‘Fossil-fuel’ really? Duckduckgo ‘abyssal, abiotic petroleum’.

Another non-scientist making a living from the non-scientific analysis of non-referenced sources. When the purpose of the exercise is to satisfy the paymaster then the article should carry a warning to this effect. Unfortunately the sourcing of genuine scientific analysis by actual scientists that have avoided the clutches of vested interest is no longer possible. This fact is a measure of the degree to which uncontrolled capitalism has financed the corruption of everything.

End of comments.

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