Terrible news for both humans and the planet! New data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii are showing that the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has reached the highest point in the last 3 million years. The data shows over 415 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 since the evolution of humans. The information was posted on Twitter by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which measures daily CO2 together with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
What Do the Measurements Mean for Humans and the Planet?
In 1958, a program of measurements was started by Charles David Keeling and the graphic of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been invented; it is named the Keeling Curve. The CO2 measurements from a few days ago are revealing 415 ppm, which is a record for the entire human history.
If we look back in the history of this planet, in the Pliocene Epoch, that means three million years ago, the CO2 levels were between 310 and 400 ppm, and a temperature around 2-3 degree Celsius warmer than today. Of course, other changes were at that time: the Arctic was full of trees, not ice, and the temperatures in the summer were around 15 degrees C, and the sea levels were higher than now.
Atmospheric CO2 Reached The Highest Levels In The Last 3 Million Years
Humans are the first factor that causes detrimental effects on the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, destructing nature by all means. These actions are preventing the Earth to cool down naturally, and all the heat is blocked near the surface- that is causing global temperature to rise. Greenhouse gases and the CO2 releases are raising the global temperature at 1 degree C.
Besides this, studies are showing that if the World is getting warmer with two degrees, some devastating consequences will happen. We will have a risk of wildfires, a 25% more hot days, heat waves every five years, flooding, weather cyclones, and typhoons, and more than one million species are risking extinction. And that’s not all, because mosquitoes will thrive, and the risk of malaria and other diseases will be high.
Finally, the two degrees increase can become possible; the problem is not to go there or even worse, with three or four degrees, because Earth will enter in a hothouse stage. The measures of preventing the devastating effects on Earth is to cut down the atmospheric CO2 emissions, to create carbon sinks, to plant as many trees as possible, and to develop innovative technologies for carbon capture.
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.