The measurements come after the latest warning by scientists that the world could continue to slide toward “catastrophic” climate change, even if emissions of greenhouse gases drop dramatically, which governments are still failing to achieve.
“It’s sad that we lack collective action to slow the ongoing rise in carbon dioxide,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist who monitors carbon dioxide measurements at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Hawaii.
He added, in comments reported by the British newspaper, The Guardian: “It may not be the use of Fossil fuels accelerating anymore, but we’re still running at full speed toward global catastrophe.”
And last May, the Mauna Loa observatory in the Hawaiian Islands measured the concentration of carbon dioxide at 421 parts per million, which is the latest escalation in an unstoppable rise in the level of this gas, due to burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, carbon dioxide levels on Earth had been around 280 parts per million for nearly 6,000 years, providing a stable basis for the progression of human civilization.
Since then, humans have released about 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide, enough to warm the planet for the next thousands of years.
This huge jump in carbon dioxide emissions has rapidly pushed the world into conditions not seen in 4 million years, according to the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Carbon dioxide is at levels our species has never seen before,” said Peter Tans, chief scientist at the department’s Global Monitoring Laboratory.
He continued, “We’ve known about this for half a century and failed to do anything meaningful about it. What does it take for us to wake up?”
The last time carbon dioxide levels reached this high was about 4.1 million years ago, when concentrations were around 400 parts per million.
The world at that time was radically different from what we know now, where forests were covered North Pole And sea levels are 5 to 25 meters higher than today, which would be enough to inundate many of the world’s largest cities.
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