May 13, 2013
For the first time in over 3 million years, carbon dioxide levels have reached over 440 ppm (although we didn’t technically begin taking measurements until 1958), according to a reading done in the atmosphere in Mauna Loa, Hawaii in the oldest measurement taking lab in the world. Measurements were also made this week by both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography which confirmed this report.
Carbon dioxide is the most contributing greenhouse gas to global climate change. It is released into the atmosphere mainly by human activities such as fossil fuel burning. “That increase is not a surprise to scientists,” said NOAA senior scientist Pieter Tans, with the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. “The evidence is conclusive that the strong growth of global CO2 emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas is driving the acceleration.”
Even though we have reached this significant milestone, some scientists continue to be hopeful that we can indeed still reverse the effects of global climate change. There’s no stopping CO2 from reaching 400 ppm,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at Scripps who does the CO2 measurement and testing. “That’s now a done deal. But what happens from here on still matters to climate, and it’s still under our control. It mainly comes down to how much we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy.”
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