High Concentration of Carbon Dioxide Reaches Dangerous Records

The high concentration of carbon dioxide worries specialists who indicate that CO2 levels surpass previous records. Scientists indicate that the increase of CO2 registered in 2016 is 50% higher compared to the average of the last ten years. Therefore, a dangerous combination of the El Nino weather phenomenon and human-made climate change appears to have triggered the high CO2 levels.

Furthermore, scientists express their concern regarding these high levels of CO2 which are higher than the ones in the last 800,000 years. Unfortunately, researchers highlight the fact that the great carbon dioxide levels may prevent us from reaching the Paris Agreement goal. Therefore, it might harder and harder for us to reach the global temperature targets.

The WMO developed the greenhouse gas bulletin for 2017 relying on the measurements they took in 51 countries. The research stations from around the globe indicate developed measurements regarding concentrations of warming gases. Some of these gases are nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide.

The biosphere and the oceans represent our planet’s sinks, absorbing a big part of greenhouse gases. The WMO only published the figures that indicate the gases that remain in the atmosphere after the “sinks” absorb some of them.

The high concentration of carbon dioxide raises awareness regarding climate change

In 2016, the average concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million and in 2015, 400 parts per million. Dr. Oksana Tarasova is the chief of the global atmosphere watch program at WMO. She indicates that the figures registered this year represent the largest increase witnessed in the last 30 years. She noticed that the last time when they registered a massive increase was back in 1997-1998 during the previous El Nino.

Back then, the CO2 concentrations reached 2.7 parts per million. Now, the figures indicate 3.3 parts per million, being 50% higher compared to the average of the last ten years. El Nino affected the amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere because it triggers draughts that limit the absorption of CO2 by trees and plants. However, researchers indicate that human-made emissions have decreased in the last few years.

On the other hand, Dr. Tarasova indicates that only the cumulative total of CO2 in the atmosphere really matters since carbon dioxide remains active for centuries. The new report indicates that during the last 70 years the CO2 increase in the atmosphere appears to be 100 times larger compared to the last ice age. The levels of atmospheric CO2 rapidly increase as other dangerous gases in the atmosphere can also trigger unexpected changes in our climate system.

If this happens, then the changes will lead to dangerous economic and ecological chaos. Since 1990, specialists registered a 40% increase regarding total radiative forcing. This represents the warming effect on our climate due to all greenhouse gases. Dr. Tarasova claims that from a geological point of view all this accumulation of harmful gases is like an injection of tremendous heat.

Smoke coming out of the chimneys of some power plants

The high concentration of carbon dioxide may not decrease in time to fulfill the goals of the Paris agreement.

The greenhouse gases trap the heat in our atmosphere

Nevertheless, she argues that the changes regarding the CO2 levels will not take ten thousand years just like it happened in the past. They will occur much faster than before. Nevertheless, they worry because they do not know what the pace will be.

Relying on the new report, about three to five million years ago was the last time when our planet experienced a similar carbon dioxide concentration, during the mid-Pliocene era. Back then, the climate was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than it is now. Furthermore, sea levels were 10-20 m higher than they are now. This happened because of the meltdown of ice sheets in the West Antarctic and Greenland.

Other environmentalists and experts in the field are now worry due to the results of the new report developed by WMO. Professor Euan Nisbet from the Royal Holloway University of London indicates that the CO2 growth rate from 2015 and 2016 is outrageous. The recent increase appears to be double the growth rate experienced in 1990-2000.

Prof Nisbet indicates that specialists in the field should do their best to follow the Paris Agreement goal and give up the use of fossil fuels. We should hurry to replace them with renewable energy, using hydropower, windmills and solar panels to save the planet. Some countries already started using fewer fossil fuels and more eco-friendly sources of energy. However, this green project should advance faster than it does to offer the results we desire for. Furthermore, even if the changing process has started, the pollution levels are the same for now.

The levels of methane continue to rise

This report also highlights another concern related the mysterious increase of methane gas levels in the atmosphere. Specialists revealed that the methane levels are higher than the average levels during the past ten years. Prof Nisbet argues that climate change might trigger a vicious cycle. This may happen due to the fact that methane levels trigger higher temperatures. They boost the release of more methane from natural sources.

Prof Nisbet claims that the increase in methane levels registered since 2007 is different from what scientists have seen in the past. The report shows that the levels of methane in the sub-tropics and tropics are strongest. Furthermore, when they discussed the Paris agreement, experts did not expect these massive changes.

When it comes to methane, specialists indicate that the carbon isotopes indicate that this growth is not due to fossil fuels. The incredible levels of carbon made scientists scratch their heads wondering what caused them. However, they are extremely worried thinking that this may be a climate feedback. The new atmospheric measurements related to the goals agreed under the Paris climate act trigger negative implications.

Summing up

The high concentration of carbon dioxide may discourage us. It may indicate that we might not fulfill the goals established under the Paris agreement. However, we should try to fight against all odds and do our best to diminish the use of fossil fuels. Otherwise, we will all disappear in a cloud of ash and CO2, suffocating due to human-made climate change.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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