"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Global carbon dioxide in atmosphere passes milestone level


Global carbon dioxide in atmosphere passes milestone level
Climate warming greenhouse gas reaches 400 parts per million for the first time in human history


MAUNA LOA OBSERVATORY
Hawaii's Mauna Loa observatory, where record CO2 increases are being documented. Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP


For the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.

These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.

"It is symbolic, a point to pause and think about where we have been and where we are going," said Professor Ralph Keeling, who oversees the measurements on a Hawaian volcano, which were begun by his father in 1958. "It's like turning 50: it's a wake up to what has been building up in front of us all along."

"The passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate at which – and the extent to which – we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," said Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as science adviser to the world's governments. "At the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280ppm. We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge."

The world's governments have agreed to keep the rise in global average temperature, which have already risen by over 1C, to 2C, the level beyond which catastrophic warming is thought to become unstoppable. But the International Energy Agency warned in 2012 that on current emissions trends the world will see 6C of warming, a level scientists warn would lead to chaos. With no slowing of emissions seen to date, there is already mounting pressure on the UN summit in Paris in 2015, which is the deadline set to settle a binding international treaty to curb emissions.

Edward Davey, the UK's energy and climate change secretary, said: "This isn't just a symbolic milestone, it's yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet. I've made clear I will not let up on efforts to secure the legally binding deal the world needs by 2015 to avoid the worst effects of climate change."

Two CO2 monitoring stations high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa are run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and provide the global benchmark measurement. Data released on Friday shows the daily average has passed 400ppm for the first time in its half century of recording. The level peaks in May each year as the CO2 released by decaying vegetation is taken up by renewed plant growth in the northern hemisphere, where the bulk of plants grow.

Analysis of fossil air trapped in ancient ice and other data indicate that this level has not been seen on Earth for 3-5 million years, a period called the Pliocene. At that time, global average temperatures were 3 or 4C higher than today's and 8C warmer at the poles. Reef corals suffered a major extinction while forests grew up to the northern edge of the Arctic Ocean, a region which is today bare tundra.

"I think it is likely that all these ecosystem changes could recur," said Richard Norris, a colleague of Keeling's at Scripps. The Earth's climate system takes time to adjust to the increased heat being trapped by high greenhouse levels and it may take hundreds of years for the great ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland to melt to the small size of the Pliocence and sea level far above many of the world's major cities.

But the extreme speed at which CO2 in now rising – perhaps 75 times faster than in pre-industrial time – has never been seen in geological records and some effects of climate change are already being seen, with extreme heatwaves and flooding now more likely. Recent wet and cold summer weather in Europe has been linked to changes in the high level jetstream winds, in turn linked to the rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic, which shrank to its lowest recorded level in September.

"We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks," said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. "Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years."

"The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it's too late for our children and grandchildren," said Tim Lueker, a carbon cycle scientist at Scripps.

Professor Bob Watson, former IPCC chair and UK government chief scientific adviser, said: "Passing 400ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indeed a landmark and the rate of increase is faster than ever and shows no sign of abating due to a lack of political committment to address the urgent issue of climate change - the world is now most likely committed to an increase in surface temperature of 3C-5C compared to pre-industrial times."

The graph of the rising CO2 at Mauna Loa is known as the Keeling curve, after the late Dave Keeling, the scientist who began the measurements in March 1958. The isolated Hawaiian island is a good location for measurements as it is far from the main sources of CO2, meaning it represents a good global average.


  Climate-warming gas in atmosphere passes 400ppm milestone – interactive





From The Guardian @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/10/carbon-dioxide-highest-level-greenhouse-gas


Carbon Dioxide Levels this High Pre-Date Humanity



To borrow the title of a 2004 Modest Mouse album, here’s some “good news for people who love bad news”: As Treehugger reported on Monday, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory recently measured carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the air of 398.36 parts per million (ppm). It’s looking likely that soon, for the first time in human existence, CO2 levels will hit 400 ppm. CO2 is one of the main gasses driving global warming, and the last time levels exceeded 400 ppm was roughly 2-3 million years ago.

That’s not just a long time ago. In human terms it’s essentially “all the time” ago. We’ve simply never lived in a world with CO2 concentrations so high. As Environmental Defense Fund land use and climate scientist Jason Funk explained, 2-3 million years ago:

  • Australopithecines were struggling to become bipedal

  • It would be more than a million years before their descendants would master the control of fire

  • There were at least eight glacial periods still to come

  • The rise and demise of Neanderthals was still in the future

  •  A crafty little species called Homo sapiens had yet to arise and apply the use of fire to fossil fuels, launching us on an uncontrolled planetary climate experiment.

“Basic human systems we take for granted and depend on today, like agriculture and urban civilization, were developed in an entirely different climate regime than the one we're entering,” Funk said. “Our species and those systems may have a lot of difficulty enduring in the new climate regime. That's the magnitude of what we're talking about."

The folks at Mauna Loa have been recording atmospheric CO2 levels since 1958, and as the “Keeling Curve” below shows, we’ve been on a collision course with 400 ppm for some time.


The Keeling Curve gets its name from Charles David Keeling, and it’s maintained today by his son Ralph F. Keeling at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. If you want to be one of the first to know when we cross the 400 ppm threshold, follow the Keeling Curve on Twitter @Keeling_curve


From EDF @ http://www.edf.org/blog/2013/05/01/carbon-dioxide-levels-high-pre-date-humanity


For more information about climate change see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/climate%20change
For more information about the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/co2   
  
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3 comments:

  1. its NOT global warming, its climate change, this happens from time to time on earth, and yes, I agree that we the human race and the crap we produce is not helping the situation, but, I think that write-ups like this are being used as excuses to fill the sky with chemicals, which really is about the big pharma companies and "Monsanto" using it to wreak health and wreak farming so they can make more profit and making weather a weapon through HAARP and nothing to do with trying to "adjust the climate", its the equivalent of getting a monkey to fix a computer, it wont work.! if we REALLY want to help the ecosystem, then stop the multi nationals from hiding clean energy systems and tech from us, take the ego-maniacs out of power and let nature find its own balance, stop making excuses for them. if we don't stop them, then you really can say goodbye to a health world, it really will be only a decade or two before we are all choking to death on our own SHIT, (the ego-maniacs will be in their hermatic sealed underground bunkers thinking they are safe, only until the poles shift, the tectonic plates move violently and crush them in their bolt-holes.!)

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