Federal scientists disclosed Friday that worldwide levels of the chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), has reached an atmospheric saturation level never encountered before.
Carbon dioxide is said to be responsible for global warning, influencing an incremental but perpetual rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, as the gas traps heat like a greenhouse.
When first measured in 1958, carbon dioxide was recorded at 315.71 parts per million (ppm). Pre-industrial levels were thought to have been at around 280 ppm – whereas during the Ice Age, levels were estimated at 200.
The rate is especially concerning to climate researchers as a steady increase by an average of two parts per million per year has been seen in the last decade.
The global benchmark was recorded Thursday slightly above 400 ppm in one of the oldest monitoring stations, at the Mauna Loa Observatory located in Hawaii, according to an MSN report. Dr. Pieter Tans, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), states the last time carbon levels were nearly that high were about two million years ago, during the Pleistocene Era. Others suggest as far back as 10 million.
Regardless of what some overly exaggerative environmental advocates will tell you, there are natural up and down cycles with carbon levels – triggered by natural sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide include volcanic outgassing, the combustion of organic matter, wildfires, and the respiration processes of living aerobic organisms. Generally carbon levels peak in May then fall slightly. Therefore, the yearly average is usually a few parts per million lower than May levels. They are usually lowest for the year around October.
Plant and animals are capable of adapting to these gradual fluctuations, but based on the current projections of increase will be unable to adjust after a critical point.
However, the aforementioned causes are not what have driven the unsettling spike in CO2, and surprisingly, according to Tans, the numbers should have been higher. The oceans seem to be absorbing more of the gas, and the 400 ppm was registered based on air saturation.
Tans states the cause is, “100 percent due to human activity,” as just about everything we do renders a consequential carbon footprint. The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal for electricity and oil for gasoline, has caused the overwhelming volume of the man-made increase in carbon-dense air.
There are several ways to reduce independent carbon emissions: buying local products, being mindful of packaging, energy-proofed housing, ditching bottled water, unplug items when not in use, bike or walk in lieu of driving when possible, and reduce, reuse, and recycle.
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