Carbon Dioxide Levels On The Rise
Scientists have warned that the average rate of increase of carbon dioxide levels is faster than it has ever been. The annual peak of global heat-trapping carbon dioxide has reached yet another very dangerous milestone: it now sits at a whopping 50% higher than when the industrial age first began.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May’s reading of the average carbon dioxide levels reached 419.13 parts per million. This recording equates to 1.82 parts per million more than in May of last year, and 50% higher than pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million.
Climate Change Woes
Climate change scientists have said that the phenomenon does a lot more than just increase temperatures. It also leads to extreme weather patterns, making the likes of storms, floods, droughts and wildfires more probable. These could all get a lot worse and become a lot more frequent. Climate change and global warming also leads to a rise in ocean levels and causes the waters to become more acidic.
Other climate change woes include adverse health effects, including increased allergies from pollen and heat deaths. In 2015, several countries around the world signed the Paris agreement in order to try and keep climate change to a minimum. The aim of this was to keep the levels lower than what is considered to be dangerous.
This one-year jump in carbon dioxide levels has not broken any records, mainly due to the fact that the La Nina weather pattern keeps parts of the Pacific Ocean temporarily cool.
Measuring Carbon Dioxide Levels
The levels of carbon dioxide peak each May, just before the plant life in the northern hemisphere begins to blossom. During this time, some of the carbon is sucked out of the atmosphere into leaves, seeds, flowers and stems. However, this reprieve is only temporary, as emissions from burning coal, natural gas and oil for transportation and electricity far exceeds what plants are able to take in. This pushes greenhouse gases to greater levels every year.
Natalie Mahowald, a climate scientist at Cornell University, has said that reaching 50% higher levels of carbon dioxide compared to previous years sets a bad benchmark. She stressed that if we want to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we must work much harder to cut down on emissions right away. While the global health crisis cut down on environmentally damaging activities by roughly 7%, this made for too small a difference to combat the damage already done.