Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere Reaches All-Time High for Recorded History – But the Trump EPA Probably Won't Do Anything About It

Wednesday, 09 May 2018 - 11:17AM
Science News
Wednesday, 09 May 2018 - 11:17AM
Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere Reaches All-Time High for Recorded History – But the Trump EPA Probably Won't Do Anything About It
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This is not good news.

Scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmed that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reached an all-time high for recorded history at 410 parts per million. Out of context, that number means absolutely nothing – but the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, human beings didn't even exist.

Carbon dioxide levels are reported daily via Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Keeling Curve Twitter feed and measured in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, where there is no major city pollution in the atmosphere to affect this data. When Keeling Curve began measuring carbon dioxide levels in 1958, readings were around 315 ppm. What is more alarming than the fact that these levels spiked in such a short amount of time is the rate at which they continue to rise.

The reasons have been laid out a million times: we are burning more and more fossil fuels while the forests are rapidly disappearing, which means less of the carbon dioxide is being absorbed. "As a scientist, what concerns me the most is what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have," said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. "It's as if we discovered that something we eat every day is causing our body to run a fever and develop all kinds of harmful symptoms - and instead of cutting back, we right keep on eating it, more and more. If that isn't alarming, I don't know what is."

Some argue that the simple solution to stop (or at least slow down) the accelerating carbon dioxide levels is to stop burning fossil fuels. This has already proven to be an incredibly complicated and divisive idea. But if something doesn't happen – soon – our atmosphere will break even more records in the near future.

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