Ecological Crisis Triggered by Global Capitalism
- Global warming gases at highest levels ever: UN
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
By Robert Evans
Greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and climate
change have reached their highest ever levels in the
atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) said on Tuesday.
A bulletin from the United Nations agency said the
gases -- the main warming culprit carbon dioxide
(CO2), methane and nitrous oxide -- "all reached new
highs in 2004."
WMO officials also indicated that a near record
year-on-year rise in CO2 levels for 2005 recorded by
U.S. monitors -- well above the average for the past
10 years -- would not come as a major surprise.
"Global observations coordinated by WMO show that
levels of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse
gas in the atmosphere, continue to increase steadily
and show no signs of leveling off," said WMO
Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
Carbon dioxide, which the WMO says accounts for 90
percent of warming over the past decade, is largely
generated by human activity involving the burning of
fossil fuels -- including in industry, transport and
Scientists warn emissions must be slowed and reduced
if the earth is to avoid climatic havoc with
devastating heat waves, droughts, floods and rising
sea-levels sinking low-lying island states and hitting
seaboard cities like New York and London.
The U.N.'s 1992 Kyoto Protocol, which came into force
last year after a decade of wrangling, obliges major
industrial nations to cut emissions while granting
exemptions to developing countries like India and
But it was weakened by the withdrawal in 2001 of the
United States, whose President George W. Bush said
that working to meet its targets would seriously
damage the U.S. economy. He has also argued that
warming is a natural, not man-made, process.
In its first Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, to be an annual
publication, the WMO said that in 2004 carbon dioxide
levels in the atmosphere stood at 377.1 parts per
million (ppm), 35 percent higher than in the
pre-industrial age before 1750.
Methane, generated by intensive farming and landfills
as well as the burning of fossil fuels like oil and
coal and which accounts for around 20 percent of the
greenhouse effect, has risen 155 percent in the modern
But its growth is slowing down, the WMO said, while
nitrous oxide, which accounts for only 6 percent of
the warming effect, is rising consistently.
The average annual increase in absolute amounts of CO2
in the atmosphere over the past decade has been 1.9
ppm, slightly higher than the 1.8 ppm of 2004, WMO
environment division chief Leonard Barrie told a news
Barrie said a finding by the U.N. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, cited by the British
Broadcasting Corporation, that carbon dioxide had
grown last year by 2.6 ppm had to be viewed in
"It is important to take the long view. There can be
fluctuations," he said. "The 2.6 ppm figure is within
past experience. If it were to persist over several
years, then we would have to start talking about what
Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Win a BlackBerry device from O2 with Yahoo!. Enter now. http://www.yahoo.co.uk/blackberry