Climate change…I can’t believe it is still debatable. The indicators are there. We cannot ignore science.
For the first time ever, our global carbon levels were 400 ppm for an entire month.
Just what does this mean?
350.org gives a simple explanation:
“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm.”
Dr. James Hansen
“PPM” stands for “parts per million,” which is simply a way of measuring the ratio of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the other molecules in the atmosphere…
Since the beginning of human civilization, our atmosphere contained about 275 ppm of carbon dioxide. That is the planet “on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating our homes rely on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, once stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere.
Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control.
We have crossed the 400 ppm threshold before but never for an entire month. Pieter Tans of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA)’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network called this a “significant milestone.” (via: EcoWatch).
50 ppm may not seem like much, but when the global trend is one of increase, sustaining higher amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide will become the norm. March was not just an unusual month.
According to NOAA:
“It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone.Patricio Eladio Rojas Ledezma, a Chilean meteorologist, collects air samples as part of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network, on Easter Island, Chile, with a portable air sampler. (NOAA)
“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” added Tans. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”
The International Energy Agency reported on March 13 that the growth of global emissions from fossil fuel burning stalled in 2014, remaining at the same levels as 2013. Stabilizing the rate of emissions is not enough to avert climate change, however. NOAA data show that the average growth rate of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from 2012 to 2014 was 2.25 ppm per year, the highest ever recorded over three consecutive years.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is just one indicator our climate is changing
Indicators of Climate Change
- Greenhouse Gases
- Arctic Sea Ice Extent
- Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
- Forest Cover
- Frost-free season
- Global Surface Temperatures
- Grassland, Shrubland, and Pasture Cover
- Heating and Cooling Degree Days
- Ocean Chlorophyll Concentrations
- Sea Surface Temperatures
- Start of Spring
- Terrestrial Carbon Storage
- U.S. Surface Temperatures
- Vibrio Infections
This has been happening in our lifetimes. The effects are being seen as the planet warms. This is the first winter where not a snow flake fell at my home in the 25 years I have lived here. We need to do something now.
As individuals, we can make choices that reduce our contributions to climate change, but it will take the actions of government to force industry to make the drastic modifications needed to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. As we waste time and energy trying to convince those with profits on their minds climate change even exists, the effects of modern living continue to impact our only home. We have run out of time. NOAA explains:
Stabilizing the rate of emissions is not enough to avert climate change.
Let’s stop debating the science of climate change. Let’s take action!