I welcome the warmer temps….
by Kiley Kroh
“Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years ” Credit: Shutterstock
The concentration of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that drives climate change, hit 402 parts per million in April this year — the highest level recorded in at least 800,000 years.
The recordings came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which marked another ominous milestone last May when the 400 ppm threshold was crossed for the first time in recorded history.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels spike every spring but this year the threshold was crossed in March, two months earlier than last year. In fact, it’s happening “at faster rates virtually every decade,” according to James Butler, Director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, a trend that “is consistent with rising fossil fuel emissions.”
400 ppm, long considered a very serious measurement, is just a marker on the road to ever-increasing carbon pollution levels, Butler explained in an interview on NOAA’s website. “It is a milestone, marking the fact that humans have caused carbon dioxide concentrations to rise 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, with over 90% of that in the past century alone. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”
When asked if the 400 ppm will be reached even earlier next year, Butler responded simply, “Yes. Every year going forward for a long time.”
While atmospheric CO2 levels never approached 400 ppm in the 800,000 years of detailed records scientists have, there is evidence that the last time the Earth experienced such high concentrations was actually several million years ago. Writing about the 400 ppm recording last year, climatologist Peter Gleick pointed to UCLA research “that suggested we would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels approaching today’s levels.”
But whether it’s 800,000 years ago or 15 million years ago, Gleick emphasizes that “the more important point to remember is that never in the history of the planet have humans altered the atmosphere as radically as we are doing so now.”
And this uncharted territory is something humans will have to navigate for quite some time because once its emitted, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere. In fact, Andrew Freedman explains, “a single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain aloft for hundreds of years, which means that the effects of today’s industrial activities will be felt for the next several centuries, if not thousands of years.”
So what if the CO2 levels are over 402 ppm? Some say they welcome warmer winters and longer summers, and don’t get what all the hype is about! Just why should I even care?
Remember the story about the old woman who swallowed a fly and then ate this or that to eat the thing before it and that until she actually died? Rising CO2 levels are a lot like the fly which leads to the next consequential change, again and again… until it will affect the possibility of survival of humanity.
Rising temps mean much more than warmer winters and rising oceans. It means more than erratic weather that can cause terrifying destruction like floods and drought and hurricanes and more bugs that will kill many species of trees and forests, as well. Rising CO2 levels will affect life starting at the cellular level. It will affect every living thing on this planet — and not for the better.