For the first time since records began, Earth’s carbon dioxide levels have reached the highest level recorded in human history, new data initially released by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at Los Angeles show. San Diego and subsequently supported by records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The worrying figures
According to both agencies, monthly average levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) exceeded 420 parts per million (ppm) in April, their highest peak since precise measurements began 64 years ago, and even reached 421.33 ppm in a day last week, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise around the world.
Data from the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that the baseline monthly mean carbon dioxide (CO2) for April 2022 at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory was 420.02 ppm. The records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed, for the first days of May, that the levels reached 421.33 ppm on May 4, 2022.
Historical data and nothing flattering
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg said on social media that if these levels were confirmed, it would be “really groundbreaking to say the least and I don’t mean that in a good way…”.
The data is what it is. Additionally, those collected by instruments at the mountaintop observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii also confirmed that last year was the first in which atmospheric CO2 exceeded pre-Industrial Revolution levels by more than 50 percent. . These are record numbers in the entire history of mankind.
Twenty years ago the highest month of the year was 375.93 parts per million. The annual increase in CO2 concentration (ppm/year) has been accelerating in recent years, so the COVID-19 pandemic has not put a stop to the decrease in CO2 emissions due to the partial stoppage of activity or the decrease in the transport of goods and travelers worldwide caused by the pandemic.
The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere does not depend on the annual emissions, but on the total emissions that have accumulated in the atmosphere up to that moment. Unfortunately for our planet, CO2 is a long-lived gas and it is estimated that it continues to warm the atmosphere (positive radiative forcing) irrevocably due to the effect of greenhouse gases.
It was in 1958, when scientists began collecting CO2 data on Mauna Loa; and the highest month of the year had only 317.51 ppm.
Although CO2 levels fluctuate throughout the year , it is one of the main causes of climate change and has always been driven, in large part, by the burning of fossil fuels around the world.
The caveat, in this case, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is that despite a temporary reduction in global emissions in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, global levels have not decreased and the Earth is still warming by leaps and bounds : CO2 is currently rising about 100 times faster than other periods in geological history that have seen more natural increases in carbon dioxide.
The figures are a startling indication of how radically human activity is changing our planet , and further evidence that we are not doing enough to remedy our impact.
“May will likely be even higher,” said Axios Pieter Tans, senior scientist at NOAA’s Climate Monitoring and Diagnostic Laboratory. “We really need to focus on reducing emissions and we haven’t been very successful globally because the rate of increase of CO2 is still as high as it has been in the last decade.”
Reference: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)