Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
La Jolla, CA, United States (4E) – Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming, reached its highest level in the past 800,000 years of recorded history in April at 410.31 parts per million (ppm).
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) based in La Jolla, California reported this alarming record. This is the first time in the history of the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that tracks CO2 levels has recorded a monthly average in excess of 410 ppm. The rise is also a 30% increase in CO2 concentration in the global atmosphere since the Keeling Curve began in 1958.
CO2 levels stood at some 280 parts per million prior to the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, when large amounts of greenhouse gases began to be released by burning fossil fuels. The burning of oil, gas and coal releases greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane. These gases have caused the Earth’s temperature to rise over the past century to levels that can’t be explained by natural variability.
CO2 is particularly dangerous because of its ability to trap solar radiation and keep it confined to the atmosphere instead of dissipating into space. It’s the most prevalent among all greenhouse gases produced by human activities, and is responsible for 63% of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases.
The Keeling Curve is a graph that has recorded the ongoing change in concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. It’s based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling.
SIO is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and Earth science research, public service, undergraduate and graduate training in the world. It said that before the onset of the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels had fluctuated over the millennia but had never exceeded 300 parts per million.
“We keep burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide keeps building up in the air,” said Scripps scientist Ralph Keeling, who maintains the longest continuous record of atmospheric carbon dioxide on Earth. “It’s essentially as simple as that.” He is the son of Charles Keeling.
The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 410.31 parts per million (ppm) for the month of April, according to the Keeling Curve measurement series.
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said tyhat what concerns her the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold “but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have.”
The increase in greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide is fueling climate change and making “the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations,” said the World Meteorological Organization.
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