statue of liberty global warming

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high Monday, a reading from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that elicited fresh calls from climate activists and scientists for the international community to end planet-heating emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation.

According to NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory, an atmospheric baseline station in Hawaii, the daily average of CO2 levels on Feb. 10 was 416.08 parts per million. In recent years, soaring rates of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have signaled that the world is not ambitiously addressing the climate crisis.

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who founded the global youth-led climate action movement Fridays for Future, tweeted Tuesday of NOAA’s new finding that “the saddest thing is that this won’t be breaking news.”

“And basically no one understands the full meaning of this. Because we’re in a crisis that’s never been treated as a crisis,” added the 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Thunberg was not alone in using social media to draw attention to the figure. Belgian climate scientist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, who has been involved with multiple reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wrote on Twitter Tuesday that the record was not something “to be proud of.”

Instead, van Ypersele said, it is a reminder that “emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation need to be reduced to ZERO to stop this trend!”

A German-based Parents for Future group—made up of adults who support the movement Thunberg founded—shared the new number alongside a video of children calling for bold climate action.

The video features several children mouthing along to a speech that Thunberg delivered in December 2018 at the U.N. COP24 climate talks in Poland. Calling for systemic change on a global scale to the tackle the climate emergency, Thunberg warned in her address that “we cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

The United Kingdom’s national weather service, the Met Office, warned in January that “a forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, 1958.”

The Met Office said that “the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is expected to peak above 417 parts per million in May,” noting that the anticipated increase is due in part to emissions from the bushfires that have devastated large swaths of Australia since late last year.

“Although the series of annual levels of CO2 have always seen a year-on-year increase since 1958, driven by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the rate of rise isn’t perfectly even because there are fluctuations in the response of ecosystem carbon sinks, especially tropical forests,” explained professor Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Center and University of Exeter.

“The success of our previous forecasts has shown that the year-to-year variability in the rate of rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is affected more by the strength of ecosystem carbon sinks and sources than year-to-year changes in human-induced emissions,” he added. “Nevertheless, the anthropogenic emissions are still the overall driver of the long-term rise in concentrations.”

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One Comment

  1. David Kennedy says:

    Rather more than ninety years ago. Edward Bernays enjoyed one of his outstanding successes – successfully encouraging women to smoke cigarettes under the slogan “torches of freedom”. He demonstrated the effectiveness of his methods of ‘mind-control’. Corporations loved him. Neither advertising nor propaganda have since looked back, to say nothing of public relations and, more contemporary, fake news.
    Joseph Goebbels carried these methods to new heights (or depths!) and the secret services of various countries have been eager to further advance this work ever since. Who were the Oil&Gas lobbyists who decried public, as opposed to private, transport? What effect does worldwide trade, as opposed to local production, have on the transportation of goods, the burning of fossil fuels, and the return to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide? So the Met Office notes the ‘anticipated’ increase (in carbon dioxide) because of bush-fires in Australia, but says nothing about deliberate ‘slash and burn’ of tropical forests around the world to increase the growth of personal wealth.
    How many people are prepared to give up their cars, their rich lifestyles, their creature comforts – almost all dependent on electricity – and return to simpler, more sustainable living? Very few, I suspect.
    The ill-effects of smoking have been known since the nineteen-fifties. People still keep on smoking despite costly campaigns to better inform them. People (who can afford it) keep on over-eating despite being warned of the baleful consequences. Biologists told us of ocean-acidification and its harmful effects on coral reefs because of increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide sixty years ago. Oil&Gas lobbies (including some handsomely-paid biologists) pooh-poohed the idea burning fossil fuels was largely to blame for this, despite knowing the truth. They knew the origin of fossil fuels, photosynthesis, and the environmental carbon cycle, but sought instead to control the ‘mass-minds’ a-la-Bernays. The truth of atmospheric ‘greenhouse’ gases is only now, sixty years too late, being acknowledged by the general public. But there are other manmade dangers to life on earth, similarly as menacing as greenhouse gases, that are not yet receiving the attention their potential devastation deserves.
    We shall all understand when it is too late and, of course, someone else will be to blame