First, it was a jarring report by the Renewable Energy Industry Institute. Then, a paper and call to action by the World Bank. Now, the World Meteorological Association (WMO) has released their own examination of the climate, and things are not looking good. According to their annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released today, they assert that global CO2 levels are the highest they have ever been in human history, reaching 391 parts per million. Seeing as 350 parts per million is the threshold that many scientists agree should be maintained in order to live on a stable planet, the Organization is one of many that is expressing serious concerns.
This week, the World Meteorological Organization published their Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, putting the world’s CO2 levels are a record 391 parts per billion. While other greenhouse gasses, such as methane have also reached top levels, CO2 is the most troublesome. A full 85% of the carbon dioxide is what can be held accountable for “radiative forcing”, a phenomenon that leads to global temperature rises. Far from slowing down, levels of CO2 have been steadily rising at about 2 parts per million every year for the past decade, with the current measurements 40% higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Since 1750 the WMO calculates that humans have pumped a staggering 375 billion tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere, with half still present.
The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contributed to the WMO’s report with their own set of data published through their Annual Greenhouse Gas Index. They added that CO2’s role in radiative forcing has increased by 30%, and levels of methane (an even more damaging greenhouse gas) has reached 1,813 parts per billion. This new record is an incredible two-and-a-half- times that of a pre-industrial Earth.
While the WMO states that carbon sinks, such as the ocean, have already reclaimed half of all atmospheric carbon, the trend is not likely to continue. “We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs,” said Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the WMO. “These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on Earth.” he said.
With report after report detailing the record breaking emissions levels, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which set to meet at the end of the month, has an enormous task ahead of them. Set to renew their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, it is hoped that the governments of the world take even more drastic steps in reducing their emissions for the sake of a cooler planet.
Via BBC News
Images via NOAA