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Atmospheric CO2 Hits Another All-Time High

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels measured at Hawai’i’s Mauna Loa Observatory breached 420 parts per million (ppm) in April for the first time in human history.

Considered the gold standard for accurate measurements of atmospheric CO2, the new measurements were released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reports the Independent.

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The NOAA data release shows CO2 levels hitting 420.23 ppm in April, eight years after they breached 400 ppm (400.2 ppm) in May, 2013.

Last May, atmospheric CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa stood at 419.13 ppm. In May 2002, they were 375.93 ppm, and in 1958, the first year scientists began to measure atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa, levels stood at 317.51 ppm.

May typically records the highest levels of atmospheric CO2, just before the northern hemisphere’s summer kicks in with an explosion of plant growth that pulls carbon out the atmosphere, causing levels to drop.

Emissions from fossil fuel burning, plus the loss of natural carbon sinks through the destruction of forest, wetlands, and mangroves, now mean that even the lowest seasonal CO2 levels—typically measured in September before the leaves fall—are far too high for climate health.

Last year, September readings at Mauna Loa stood at 413.30, well above the safe limit of 350 ppm long urged by climate scientists.

And CO2 is not the only thing to worry about, the Independent notes.

Atmospheric concentrations of the two other major greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, are also rising sharply. Methane is about 85 times more potent an atmospheric warming agent than CO2 over a 20-year span; nitrous oxide is 300 times more powerful.

Atmospheric methane levels now stand at 1980.9 parts per billion (ppb), up 340 ppb from the early 1980s, while nitrous oxide just reached 335.2 ppb, up from 316 ppb just 20 years ago.

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2 Comments To "Atmospheric CO2 Hits Another All-Time High"

#1 Comment By Frank Sterle Jr. On May 9, 2022 @ 8:17 PM

Every day of the year desperately needs to be World Earth Day — but a serious effort rather than just brief news-media tokenism. Clearly, too many mainstream-news-media CEOs and senior editors remain unfazed by manmade global warming and its resultant extreme weather events. And it’s not just Fox News but rather pretty much the entire mainstream news-media spectrum that are complicit — especially in regards to human-created climate change.

In an interview with the online National Observer (posted Feb.12, 2019), Noam Chomsky noted that while the mainstream news-media, including The New York Times, do publish stories about man-made global warming, “It’s as if … there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying ‘look, this is a catastrophe,’ but then the regular [non-environmental pro-fossil fuel] coverage simply disregards it.” …

Particularly disturbing was an editorial a local newspaper (The Surrey Now-Leader) printed, headlined “Earth Day in need of a facelift”. It opined that “some people would argue that [the day of environmental action] … is an anachronism,” that it should instead be a day of recognizing what we’ve societally accomplished. “And while it [has] served us well, in 2017, do we really need Earth Day anymore?” (?!?!)

Varied lengths of the same editorial, unfortunately, was also run by some sister newspapers, all owned by the same news-media mogul who also happens to be an aspiring oil refiner.

Until reading this, I had never heard anyone, let alone a mainstream news outlet, suggest we’re doing so well as to render Earth Day an unnecessary “anachronism”. Considering the sorry state of the planet’s natural environment, I still find it one of the most absurd and irresponsible acts of editorial journalism I’ve witnessed in my 3.5 decades of news consumption.

#2 Comment By Mitchell Beer On May 10, 2022 @ 10:22 PM

It’s absolutely absurd, Frank. Then again, from scanning headlines every day to compile our story lineup over the last eight years, I can tell you that many news outlets have dramatically improved their climate coverage. Not all of them, and it’s a decade or two late, but we’re definitely seeing progress.